One quarter of New Orleans' catch-basins were clogged to uselessness with 93,000 lbs of plastic Mardi Gras beads

London has fatbergs: glistening, multiton agglomerations of fat, sanitary napkins, "flushable" wipes, human waste, dirty diapers, used condoms, and delicious strawberry jam; New Orleans has 93,000 pounds of plastic Mardi Gras beads. Read the rest

The elite belief in Uberized, Muskized cities is at odds with fundamental, irrefutable facts of geometry

The appropriately named Jarrett Walker is the author of Human Transit, a seminal text on transportation and cities that draws on his decades of experience in urban planning; he has the distinction of being called "an idiot" by Elon Musk on Twitter, when he pointed out that Musk's Boring Company tunnel proposals could not possibly work due to their low capacity. Read the rest

Racist authoritarians insisted that ending stop-and-frisk would increase violent crime, but the opposite just happened

For years, racist authoritarians in New York City defended the stop-and-frisk program in which primarily black and brown people were repeatedly stopped without any particularized suspicion and forced to turn out their pockets, empty their bags, even strip naked in public on frozen-street corners. Read the rest

By sheer dumb luck, an intersection where cyclists and cars can't see each other until seconds before they collide

Hampshire's Ipley Cross is a notorious crossroads where cyclists keep getting hit and even killed by motorists, despite the mostly level terrain around the place where two roads cross each other at a seemingly innocuous angle. Read the rest

Mexican cities secede to escape corruption and cartels, forming corporate dystopias, precarious utopian projects, and Mad Maxish militia towns

Mexico's corrupt, failing government that covers up official mass murders by attacking journalists and dissidents with cyberweapons is locked in a stalemate with the country's horrific, mass-murdering gangs, and the Mexican people are caught in the crossfire. Read the rest

California's record poverty and real-estate bubble are creating a "wheel-estate" boom of people with good jobs living in their cars

Extreme housing prices in California -- driven by a combination of speculation, favorable legal/tax positions for landlords, foreclosures after the 2008 crisis, and an unwillingness to build public housing -- has created vast homeless encampments, but there's a less visible side to the crisis: working people in "good jobs" who have to live in their cars. Read the rest

After Grenfell, local UK governments pay the developers who chose lethal cladding to replace it

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster (in which a building full of poor people were roasted alive because their homes had been skinned with a highly flammable decorative element that was supposed to make it easier to look at from a nearby luxury neighborhood), local UK governments have scrambled to replace the deadly cladding on other buildings with something a little less fiery. Read the rest

San Francisco SPCA uses a robot to chase away homeless people, because cruelty to humans is just fine

The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals bought a "security robot" to harass homeless people at its Mission District offices, a move that the city has banned and threatened $1,000/day fines for. Read the rest

Material culture, considered (harmful?)

Designer, maker and writer Hillary Predko's "Kipple Field Notes" is five short essays on the nature of stuff in the 21st century, its relationship to justice, the environment, cities, intergenerational strife, housing, and geopolitics. Read the rest

New York's rat population has genetically diverged into "uptown" and "downtown" subpopulation

Matthew Combs, a Fordham University Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station grad student worked with colleagues from Fordham and the Providence College Department of Biology to sequence the genomes of brown rats in Manhattan, and made a surprising discovery: the geography of rats has a genetic correlation, so a geneticist can tell where a rat was born and raised by analyzing its DNA. Read the rest

How an influential economics paper used imaginary environmental overregulation to spur low-density luxury housing

Why Do Cities Matter? Local Growth and Aggregate Growth is a 2015 paper written by University of Chicago and UC Berkeley economists Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti, which purports to show that the reasons cities are so expensive is that bourgeois NIMBYism drives affluent people to raise spurious environmental challenges to new developments, stalling growth. Read the rest

This "book-lined" Beijing subway car is an audiobook library

Beijing's subway system now includes some experimental cars decorated to look like fanciful, book-lined rooms; scan the QR codes and you get free audiobook downloads for popular Chinese novels. Read the rest

Poor Detroit neighborhoods, abandoned by telcos and the FCC, are rolling out homebrew, community mesh broadband

40% of Detroiters have no internet access. The Detroit Community Technology Project and similar projects across the city are skipping over the telcos altogether and wiring up their own mesh broadband networks, where gigabit connections are transmitted by line-of-site wireless across neighborhoods from the tops of tall buildings; it's called the Equitable Internet Initiative. Read the rest

After a show of solidarity from America's critics, Disney caves on blacklisting the LA Times from movie screenings

Disney has ended its blacklisting of the LA Times' movie critics from advance screenings -- a move it took in retaliation for a pair of in-depth, investigative articles that cataloged the one-sided deals it has extracted from the city of Anaheim, where it is the largest employer, taxpayer, charitable giver, and political contributor -- after the nation's movie critics announced that they would not review nor consider for awards any Disney movie. Read the rest

LA Times barred from press-screenings of Disney movies after reporting on corporate welfare in Anaheim

After running Daniel Miller's long, excellent features about the many ways in which Disney has manipulated the local politics of Anaheim (home of Disneyland) to extract huge subsidies from the cash-strapped city, the company retaliated by barring its film critic from future press screenings of its films, a move that the company confirmed, calling the coverage "unfair." Read the rest

Quantifying American urban food-waste

American households throw away a lot of food: sometimes it's spoiled, sometimes it's past its "sell-by" date (but still good), sometimes it's blemished, and sometimes it's just an unappetizing leftover. Read the rest

A socialist candidate for Minneapolis city council has broken all fundraising records through individual $25 donations

The average donation to first-time socialist candidate for Minneapolis City Council Ginger Jentzen is $25, and she accepts no corporate money. She's running on a platform of citizen oversight of the police, rent controls, and a $15 minimum wage. She's outraised any other candidate in Minneapolis history. Read the rest

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