Saturday, June 30, 2007
I'M on my way to London today, the day after the police luckily found two car bombs. "Luckily" not only because they found them, but because they found the first one almost by chance. I'll come home on the anniversary of the bomb attacks on London two years ago.
When I was an exchange student in London, it was a xenophobic place. Now it's an international capitol, and Mohammed is the second most popular boys name in England. It's vulnerable to the Muslim Jihads, because it has welcomed Sunnis and Shiites and finds itself in a confrontation it doesn't understand.
England is not alone in this, of course. When we removed Saddam Hussein from power, we opened a Sunni Shiite conflict we don't understand. And one of the suspects in Britain is also suspected of planning car bomb explosions in New York.
The London car bombs were found around my old haunts. My old pub, pictured above, lies between the two cars, a quarter mile from the second car. I remember London as the place where the police don't need guns.
I'M flying to London on Zoom. I'd never heard of them, but I had to go to London on short notice, and I found them online when I found out how expensive tickets to London are now. (A reflection of the strength of the pound?)
Flying to London from New York is a great way to get to Europe (The Best Way For Americans To Fly To London, if they're lucky), and I'm used to the price being pretty reasonable — with a little planning ahead, you can usually fly round trip for $250 to $500, but the tickets this time were around $1,000. And then when you get to London everything is literally twice the price of things in New York.
So I was happy to find Zoom, which has flights for as little as $79 each way, even on short notice We'll see how it goes. The biggest problem for me so far is that the flights go to Gatwick, while my brother lives in Maida Vale, a 5 minute walk from the Heathrow Express. Gatwick has a train too, of course, but it goes to Victoria, which these days is a £20 ($40) cab ride from Maida Vale, after the £20 train ticket.
Friday, June 29, 2007
it's a turn-off
okay, iGot one — by quarter to eight the line at the apple store was very short, less than fifteen minutes from getting in line to getting an iPhone. by now it's probably down to zero. kool.
maybe all the iHype worked against apple
I've been waiting for something like the iPhone for years, and I'll go buy one today if I can manage to do so without waiting in a long line. But all the hype is turning me off.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Wow, Part II
UPDATE: There's a new video about Microsoft's Surface, with some good insights. Scroll down to the second video to take a look.
Gattis took out a digital camera and placed it on the Surface. Instantly, digital pictures spilled out onto the tabletop. As Gattis touched and dragged each picture, it followed his fingers around the screen. Using two fingers, he pulled the corners of a photo and stretched it to a new size. Then, Gattis put a cellphone on the surface and dragged several photos to it — just like that, the pictures uploaded to the phone. It was like a magic trick. He was dragging and dropping virtual content to physical objects. I'm not often surprised by new technology, but I can honestly say I'd never seen anything like it.
UPDATE: What you want, What you get.
A SURE BET: If you say something like "Modernism produced some great buildings, but it produced very few great places" in a public talk, chances are good that an architect will stand up at the end and challenge that. Here's how to make some money, or at least end the discussion, when that happens.
Offer to pay $10 (or $100) for every ugly traditional building the architect can show you within a five or ten mile radius. In return, he or she will pay you $1 (or $10) for every bad Modernist building you pass along the way. If they're crazy enough to take the bet, you'll clean up.
HOWITZERS PARK in Richmond, Virginia, before and after Virginia Commonwealth University replaced a row of rowhouses with a new auditorium. Photos courtesy of Calder Loth.
I UNDERSTAND why architects thought it was necessary to invent Modernist architecture, but why did we blind ourselves to what we were doing to our cities, towns and neighborhoods?
Modernism produced some great buildings. It produced very few great places, while ruining many.
iWant my iPhone iii
HE has one.
Good luck getting the video to run — it's obviously the video of the day, and the server can't keep up.
I'm starting to think the iPhone may be like the xBox, which could mean I might not get one Friday, because I'm not going to stand in line for hours.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Egotecture to be branded as Ecotecture
AYN RAND would be proud. Screw the environment and the city — what's important is to make the world safe for developers' towers and architects' egos. Yeah, that's the ticket! We'll get some mirror glass. And some Starchitects! Yeah, then we'll have a Platinum LEED tower with sealed windows and no daylight in half the building. Starchitecture LEED, now you're talkin!
The new LEED ND (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Neighborhood Development) will be better than the system we have now, which is far too lenient on the important issue of embedded energy in different construction materials. Regular LEED will give a platinum rating to an all-glass building in the middle of the desert — like the New York Times example in their special Eco-tecture issue of the Sunday magazine on June 3, which featured a glass house in the middle of the desert by Starchitects Diller & Scofidio. Three of the four examples here seem to be for buildings that require cars for daily commutes.
Of course a building has a lower "carbon footprint" if it's in the middle of a walkable neighborhood or city, with mixed-use and good public transit, than in the middle of nowhere. And a recycled old building, buiilt before air conditioning, electric light and petroleum, needed low-energy ways of dealing with conserving heat in the summer, natural ventilation in the summer, and adequate light all year.
In the long run, it might be just as important to make buildings we deem worthy of recycling. In other words, buildings and places we love. Twenty-five years from now, when the tower below is wearing out, will we think it's worthy of saving?
More branding info here