Pangea raised $180m to buy up low-rent Chicago properties "to help poor people," and then created the most brutally efficient eviction mill in Chicago history

Pangea was founded by Al Goldstein, a Deutsche Bank investment banker who quit to found a massive, intercontinental payday lending outfit; he tapped the investors that he enriched with his payday lending business to stake him $180 million and bought up thousands of low-rent buildings in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods (which are also Chicago's blackest neighborhoods). Read the rest

Buried in Uber's IPO, an aggressive plan to destroy all public transit

Uber is a wildly unprofitable company with no conceivable path to profitability in any universe, under any circumstances, but the company's founders and early investors (having already taken massive write-downs on their investments) are hoping to get at least some of their money back through the time-honored "greater fool" methodology. Specifically, they're floating the company on the stock market and hoping that naive investors hoping to wring above-inflation gains out of their 401(k)s and avoid being made into dog-food in their old age (we're waaaaay past the era in which impoverished old people get to eat dog-food) take their shares off their hands. Read the rest

NYC adopts law targeting the handful of skyscrapers that are spiking the city's carbon footprint

New York City's just-passed Climate Mobilization Act rolls up six climate-mitigation laws that comprehensively remake the city's approach to climate change (it's colloquially known as the Green New York Deal). Read the rest

The Vessel: a perfect symbol for the grifter capitalism of New York City's privatized Hudson Yards "neighborhood"

Hudson Yards is a notorious (and spectacularly badly timed) new "luxury housing development" in New York City: a massive, gated, privatized "neighborhood" in Manhattan, a city that has been literally hollowed out by runaway luxury real-estate speculation, to the exclusion of working people and mere millionaires alike. Read the rest

An astounding gigapixel panorama of Paris affords "an eyeful of the Eiffel"

[Editor's note: Gigapixel panorama impressario Jeffrey Martin (previously) offers us "an eye full from Eiffel" in this astounding gigapixel pano of Paris -Cory]

I shot this gigapixel photo in autumn 2018 from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Using an SLR camera and a variety of telephoto lenses, I shot a few thousand photos from both levels of the Eiffel Tower. The image you see here was shot from the top level, and you can actually see the Eiffel Tower itself in the image. Read the rest

Lime scooters have a software bug that causes them to hurl their riders to the ground

Lime scooters have been recalled in Switzerland and cleared off the streets of New Zealand following a string of injuries, including multiple broken bones, caused by a software bug that brings the scooters to an abrupt halt, throwing their riders off (the scooters are still available in the USA despite an account of a similar incident in Texas). Read the rest

Beyond GIGO: how "predictive policing" launders racism, corruption and bias to make them seem empirical

"Predictive policing" is the idea that you can feed crime stats to a machine-learning system and it will produce a model that can predict crime. It is garbage. Read the rest

New York City's new rideshare regs put Big Brother in backseat, give GPS tracking a whole new meaning

Whether you love them or hate them, rideshares like Uber and Lyft have become a daily part of life for millions of New Yorkers. These app-based services make it easy to pay for your ride, but while the privacy cost isn’t always as clear, it’s about to get a lot larger. These apps have tracked our movements since they launched, but as of this month, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) started tracking us too. Read the rest

A short list of "all the bad things" about Uber and Lyft

Angie Schmitt's list of "all the bad things" about Uber and Lyft only touches on transportation, leaving aside the companies' labor, taxation, regulatory and other issues, but it's still quite a damning document. Read the rest

Toronto cops can frequently get your public transit history without a warrant

Metrolinx, the provincial agency that supplies the Presto cards used to pay for public transit rides in Toronto, has continued to hand over riders' travel history to Toronto-area cops without asking for a warrant. Read the rest

The rent is too damned high because money-laundering oligarchs bought all the real-estate to clean their oil money

In an absolutely epic Twitter thread (unrolled here) author CZ Edwards lays out an incredibly compelling explanation of spiralling real-estate prices: oligarchs need to launder a lot of oil money -- think Russia, Iran, ex-Soviet basket-case states, Saudi -- and so they plow the money into offshore Real Estate Investment Trust that then cleans it by outbidding any actual real-estate investors or would-be homeowners, bidding up and snapping up all the property in desirable cities, and then realizing the rental income-flows as legitimate, clean money. Read the rest

Bird nonpologizes: "we accidentally sent you a threatening letter"

Last week, our lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent a reply to Bird, the scooter company, which had sent us an intimidating letter seeking to censor this post on Bird conversion kits, which let you unlock the hundreds of Bird scooters that are auctioned off by cities after Bird fails to claim them from their impound lots. Read the rest

A virtual re-creation of San Francisco's massive WPA wooden city model

In the 1930s, the Works Public Administration commissioned a 1":100' wooden model of San Francisco; the final model is 38' x 42', with 6,000 removable city blocks spanning 158 pieces. Read the rest

Canada's housing market is slowly but surely imploding, and Canadians are more exposed than the US was in 2008

After 20 years of unprecedented lows, Canada's central bank is gradually raising rates; this, combined with strict rules on new loans, empty house taxes in overheated cities like Vancouver, and mandatory ownership disclosures (which keep money launderers out of the market) are depressing the Canadian housing market, and the prognosis is not good. Read the rest

Regulating Airbnb drives down local rents (as well as house prices)

Airbnb has led to much of the rental housing stock in some of the world's most expensive cities being turned into unlicensed hotel rooms, driving up both rents and house prices even further. Read the rest

Developer who tore down historic San Francisco house ordered to build an exact replica

In San Francisco, property speculators have made a game out of tearing down historically protected homes, then retroactively applying for demolition permits, and using the now-empty lots to build massive mansions that sell for millions. Read the rest

The great e-bike experiment: the data

(Previously: A bicycle snob takes on an e-bike)

Last time around, we met the e-bike, and discussed how it came to pass. I was starting to feel comfortable with how it rode, and I was curious to see how it handled my commute. Read the rest

More posts