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

Uber is a "bezzle," doomed to disappoint the suckers who buy into its IPO

Writing in New York Magazine, Naked Capitalism's Yves Smith draws on Hubert Horan's outstanding series on the underlying economics of Uber to describe why the company's IPO will be a terrible bet for the investors who buy into it. Read the rest

$30 plug-and-play kit converts a Bird scooter into a "personal scooter"

When scooter companies like Bird started illegally deploying their gadgets in city streets, there was intense interest in both the street value of the components to be found within each of these VC-backed ewaste-in-waiting devices, and tactics for hotwiring them. Read the rest

Toronto 2033: science fiction writers imagine the city of the future

Toronto 2033 is a shared-world science fiction anthology edited by the incomparable and multi-talented Jim Munroe (previously), where authors like Zainab Amadahy, Madeline Ashby, Al Donato, Kristyn Dunnion, Elyse Friedman, Paul Hong, Elan Mastai, Mari Ramsawakh, Karl Schroeder and Peter Watts were challenged to imagine a future for the city. Read the rest

Billboards are using sensors to identify, target and track individuals

I can't believe this has to be said (again), but cyberpunk was meant as a warning, not a business plan. Read the rest

US tax shortfalls have our public schools begging for donations

Between Trump's massive tax-breaks for the super-rich and rules like California's disastrous Prop 13, our cities perennially cash-starved and have led to the erosion of the same public services that make cities attractive to businesses (for example, the subway, public education, roads, grid and other public services that made NYC so attractive to tax-dodging Amazon for its second headquarters). Read the rest

ICE and the DEA have secretly hidden cameras in some streetlights

Government procurement data reveals that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Agency have each spent tens of thousands of dollars on products from Houston's Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC, which specializes in fake streetlight housings designed to conceal surveillance cameras. Read the rest

Bruce Sterling on architecture, design, science fiction, futurism and involuntary parks

In 1918, there was plenty of speculation about 2018; in 2018, no one is talking about 2118. Bruce Sterling discusses the relationship of industrial design to science fiction; the New Aesthetic and Turinese architecture; and many other subjects with Benjamin Bratton. (via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest

San Francisco spends $3.1m/year on homeless toilets and $65m/year cleaning up poop

San Francisco's housing crisis is also (of course) a homelessness crisis, and homelessness crises beget public defecation crises -- and San Francisco has a serious public defecation crisis. Read the rest

Study blames Uber/Lyft for San Francisco traffic, Uber/Lyft blames Amazon, propose surge pricing

A new report from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority attributes the majority (51%-73%) of the prodigious 2010-2016 increase in San Francisco traffic congestion on Uber and Lyft; the rideshare companies dispute the finding and say that it's really down to increased Amazon Prime delivery vehicles and Lyft has offered to work with the city on "congestion pricing" whereby use of the public roads are taxed at the same rate for both the city's incredibly wealthy tech elite and struggling underclass, with the intention of limiting private vehicle use. Read the rest

Homeless people in San Francisco are hotwiring electric scooters

San Francisco's giant fleet of semi-illegal electric scooters have come to symbolize the tech industry's worst excesses, inspiring all kinds of creative resistance Read the rest

Aw, shit: New York's McNally Jackson Books is closing its Nolita store

New York City's amazing McNally Jackson Books is closing its flagship bookstore on Prince Street in Nolita; the store is a neighborhood fixture and a hub of literary events (I've appeared there); they also sport a cafe and a book-printing machine. Read the rest

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