We've long said that dolphins are assholes, and now, we know exactly what kind of assholes they are: the kind of hipster assholes who just can't stay out of Brooklyn. They keep sneaking into the borough in search of artisanal sardines, tight tail-pants, and retro blowhole tattoos, and then getting caught in various Brooklyn waterways. The latest infiltrator: A dolphin stuck in a creek in Coney Island, probably on his way to a Joss Whedon-themed burlesque show.
In Beijing, the city whose air is so polluted it can make a 1,000-foot skyscraper invisible behind a wall of smog, an 8-year-old girl is now being treated for lung cancer. She's the youngest lung cancer patient in China. But don't worry, says the hospital treating her -- it has nothing to do with the city's dirty air! She probably just smokes too much.
Making a shitty bike lane isn't necessarily a big commitment -- just slap down some paint, and you're good. But making a safe, separated bike lane requires a little more investment. So the Copenhagenize Design Company has come up with a system that it's calling "the gateway drug to permanent bicycle infrastructure,” or “The Copenhagenize Flow.”
It's a pretty simple idea, actually: a system of tiles that click together, LEGO-style, to make a temporary, raised bike lane … wherever. There are ramps to get cyclists on and off the raised track, and the tiles themselves are made of recycled plastic and wood. City designers can buy a set, lay down a bike lane, and test it out. If it works, great -- invest in making an actual lane. If not, it can be gone the next day.
Bill de Blasio’s recent election as mayor of New York City has thrilled progressives across the country. But for environmentalists, the replacement of Mike Bloomberg -- a billionaire and former Republican -- with a liberal Democrat is, ironically, a cause for unease. Bloomberg began reorienting New York’s streetscape away from favoring cars to supporting every mode of transportation. De Blasio has a mixed record on complete streets and transportation policy. Despite his crunchy, Sandinista-supporting, Park Slope–dwelling image, de Blasio is fond of driving and sympathetic to the motorist’s perspective.
Complete-streets advocates are an increasingly well-organized and powerful force in New York politics. If de Blasio wants to win them over, he should take a look at a feature in the new issue of Reclaim, the magazine published by Transportation Alternatives, a leading New York advocacy group. TA called on some of its staffers to offer suggestions for the new mayor to enhance pedestrian and bike safety:
1.Enforce traffic safety laws. This may sound like something that must already be happening, but it isn’t. Cars in New York routinely break the speed limit, block the crosswalk, and commit other infractions that endanger pedestrians with impunity. Last year, 15,465 New York City pedestrians and cyclists were injured, and 155 killed, by drivers. As Streetsblog notes, “Historically, nearly half of motorists who take the life of a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.” Juan Martinez, TA’s general counsel and legislative director, writes, “A police commissioner that gets serious about data will prioritize serious enforcement against speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. It’s unconscionable that the NYPD issues four times as many tickets for window tint violations, which according to NYPD crash reports cause zero fatal or injurious crashes, as speeding, which is the number one cause of fatal crashes.”
We have great hopes for Desk Beers, a new London-based startup whose mission is to deliver good, local beer to offices on Fridays. "Why drink something that gets shipped round the world to get to you, when the best is right here?" Desk Beers asks. Good question! Here are some other points in favor of this idea:
"We only bring you proper beers."
"Everyone gets the same beer."
"We will aim to get it to you no later than 5 p.m. No one should have to wait that late for a beer."
Usually popping a squat in the subway station is discouraged, but now Moscow is awarding free subway rides to people who do just that. For every squat Russians do, they get 1/30th the value of a subway ride; do 30 and you ride free.
Andrew David Thaler has always loved the ocean. “I'm that obnoxious kid that wanted to be a marine biologist since I was 3,” he says. “I've wanted to work in the deep sea since before I can remember.”
Thaler now holds a PhD in marine science and conservation from Duke. He lives in the Bay Area working to preserve the species living in and around deep sea vents, particularly as these underwater fissure are explored for possible mineral drilling.
But when not saving deep sea invertebrates, Thaler turns into an evil genius who will help you put Tokyo under 80 meters of water.
The New York Times is reporting that Citi Bike, New York's new bikeshare program, has now been operating for five months without a fatality. On the one hand, this is a little suspicious; yeah, five is a salient number when you're working in base 10, but for months, it's traditional to count in groups of six or 12. It's as if the Times feels antsy about holding off for another whole month before sharing the news that nobody died -- who knows what could happen by then? On the other hand, though, yay, five months fatality-free! Apparently New York City is a little less terrible for cyclists than many of us thought.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who the Texas Tribune describes as "the leading 2014 candidate for Texas governor," sounds like a jerk. There's a terrible, terrible drought going on in Texas. So, the city of Austin decided to limit the amount of water residents can use for quixotic projects like keeping vast, pointless lawns alive in a place where drought has parched the land. But Abbott -- like a handful of other rich people in Austin -- decided that he really, really likes having a green lawn. So he dug a well and used that water on his grass.
Now, this is not illegal, as the Tribune explains. It's just pretty jerky:
"While state legislators have set up nearly 100 entities elsewhere to regulate groundwater, Texas’ capital city goes by the century-old “rule of capture.” According to the rule, Abbott can pump the water under his land as much as he likes, even if a neighbor’s well were to go dry as a result -- as long as he is not intentionally wasteful or malicious."
We will leave it up to you (and, potentially, some judge in Texas) to decide if keeping your stupid lawn green during "the worst drought in recorded history" is "intentionally wasteful or malicious." But whether or not Abbott and his ilk are allowed to use water this way, there's the question of whether it's a smart way to take care of a resource that many, many people depend on. And the answer is: hell no.
Residents of the Gardens, a predominantly African American and Latino neighborhood in Mount Holly, N.J., brought the case against the township's governing officials. Those officials made plans in 2003 to demolish the entire Gardens neighborhood, saying it was too blighted to remain, so that they could build new, expensive housing in its place. They planned this “to save the people from that neighborhood,” as one unnamed former township official told Adam Serwer in his in-depth report on the case for MSNBC. (For a fuller profile of the neighborhood and the dispute, I highly recommend reading his story.)
But while this protracted legal battle started out as a group of residents fighting to save their homes, it has become a referendum on a pivotal legal standard under civil rights law. That legal standard, called “disparate impact,” allows a minority group to sue if it can prove that the effects of plans or policies will result in racial discrimination -- without having to prove that planners or policymakers intentionally set out to discriminate.