Saturday, July 20, 2013

China's Ghost Towns

Hat tip +Mike Elgan on Google Plus.


Want China Times reports on the rise of newly built ghost towns in China:
According to the Terminology Committee of the country's Ministry of National Science and Technology, a ghost city refers to an abandoned city with depleted resources. This definition has now been expanded however to describe any city with a high rate of unoccupied buildings where few people live and where the houses are dark in the evenings.
As the country steps up its drive to encourage people to move from the countryside to urban centers, local governments and construction companies have been rushing to build new town
s, creating serious property bubbles and extending the so-called "ghost cities" to third- or fourth-tier cities and towns, Guangzhou's Time Weekly reports.
Of the 12 new ghost cities, four are in Inner Mongolia, including Kangbashi New District in Ordos, a city that has become rich through its coal resources.
Vice on HBO devotes a segment to the towns:
Fifteen years ago, China changed its policy so people could buy their own homes. Real-estate investments boomed, and new cities began popping up each year, many inspired by western design and mimicking iconic locales like Paris and lower Manhattan. The problem is: people don’t live here. One ghost city in Inner Mongolia, built to house one million people, is now an empty shell of unoccupied skyscrapers and abandoned construction sites.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Sweet Spot of Parenting

My father (bottom right) and his family

At some of the lower points in my adult life I remember how often my father would tell me how proud of me he was. At those times, when I was most definitely not proud of myself, I just assumed my dad's words were out of blind love and had no basis in reality. Of course now that I have been a parent for a while, I get it. He knew he raised a good son. He knew I had it in me to right my ship. He was proud of what he saw, not what I saw.

For me there are three distinct feelings that define the joy of being a parent: being proud, being impressed, and being happy for your child. The sweet spot of parenting is when you get to experience all three at the same time. The sweet spot is a rare occurrence, usually reserved for such things as marriage, graduation, first professional job, and Olympic gold.

Being proud of your kids happens fairly often. It's when they are doing the right thing and doing it well. It's when you know that you aren't a complete failure as a parent. Being impressed happens a bit less. It's when you kid does something you would never dare to do or have the ability to do. For instance, both my kids have no problem  getting up in front of crowds and performing...something l had an utter lack of talent for and feared as a child.

My daughter and Marina
My favorite is being happy for your children; to take part in the utter joy they are experiencing. It is such a pure experience. Last week, my daughter went to see her favorite artist, Marina and the Diamonds, at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit. For weeks, she talked about how she was hoping to meet her some how. Amazingly, through some complete mix up and error on the part of the venue, my daughter was handed passes for a meet and greet before the show.

When my wife sent me the picture of my daughter together with her current idol, I literally started dancing around the house, filled with utter happiness for how happy I knew she was. I love those moments as a parent. It is a jolt to your soul, a sweet reminder of why you get up every morning and do what you do.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Urban Hacking

(photo: gq.com)
(photo: mirukim.com)
GQ's Matthew Powers profiles urban hacker Bradley Garrett:
Garrett was handcuffed and led through passport control, where his ID was seized. Fingerprints, mug shots, and DNA swabs followed. He was eventually led to a holding cell and then an interrogation room. There he was not formally charged but was informed that he was being investigated for burglary, property destruction, and criminal trespass, among numerous other possible charges. He was told he had been the subject of a manhunt by the British Transport Police. His alleged crimes were a blatant affront to the image of a high-tech security state London had constructed for itself. And yet, during his interrogation, an investigator leaned across the table and whispered: "Off the record, Bradley, I love the work that you do."
Artist Miru Kim incorporates urban hacking into her art:
Freedom Tunnel, New York, NY, USA #3 
In the 1930s, Robert Moses covered the New York Central Railroad line to expand and improve Riverside Park, creating a tunnel underneath. With an increased use of cars and trucks for transportation, the tunnel was soon abandoned and became a haven for the homeless. Hundreds of people moved into the tunnel and built their dwellings, creating underground communities. In 1991, the tunnel was reopened for use by Amtrak, and the shantytown was bulldozed. It is impossible to know what actually happened to all the evictees. 
The tunnel is called the Freedom Tunnel in reference to the graffiti artist “Freedom,” who created large murals in the eighties and the early nineties to commemorate the former residents. Only after having walked through the tunnel, I could understand the implicit meaning of its name–freedom to live beyond surveillance.

"Whale"

(photo: wired.com)

Wired's Kim Zetter on a $33 million casino heist using hacked security cameras:
The Ocean’s Eleven-style heist played out over eight hands of cards before the gambler was caught, though not before the money was gone, according to the Herald Sun.

The gambler, described only as a foreigner, was a known “whale” — a high-roller who regularly bet and lost large amounts of money.
Full Story.