What have I been reading? July 20, 2021

Enjoy summer, but read!

“Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change.” 

– Frank Lloyd Wright

The Monocle Minute, July 13, 2020


Stop building freeways through our towns and cities ! I have been listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen lately. Streets like the one pictured below make me think of his song “Racing in the Street”.

From The Monocle Minute, Tuesday, July 13 – Wide residential street in Cedar City, Utah.

URBANISM / USA Road hogging The US has long had some of the world’s widest residential streets. Whereas newer developments in Japanese cities such as Tokyo average about 5 metres in width (just enough for two cars to pass), 20 of the most populous counties in the US continue to build streets almost three times as wide. New research this month from the University of California, Los Angeles hopes to change that by underlining the commercial potential of turning excess road space over to other uses. “The point is that desolate asphalt is doing nobody any good,” says associate professor Adam Millard-Ball, the paper’s lead author.

“Cities should be making it easier to use streets for something other than roadways and parking.” The study makes a financial case for municipal governments and developers to mandate slimmer streets in new developments. This would offer the potential for freed-up land to be turned into housing, schools and parks. US city neighbourhoods would also become more intimate, just like their counterparts in Japan.

Steven Erlanger & Somini Sengupta, The New York Times, July 15, 2021

Europe Unveils Plan to Shift From Fossil Fuels, Setting Up Potential Trade Spats

The plan includes tariffs on countries with looser environmental rules plus phasing out the sale of new diesel or gas vehicles by 2035. It will take months of negotiations between the 27 Euro member states for the plan to become law. However, the EU has laid down the challenge. In the US, the White House is studying the plan. Apparently, it broadly supports the idea of a carbon border tax. China may be less sanguine.


Photo by Chris LeBoutillier on Unsplash

Britain, which will host COP-26, the international climate talks, in Glasgow in November, has pledged a 68 percent reduction. China, currently the world’s largest emitter of carbon, has said only that it aims for emissions to peak by 2030. It is under pressure to set a more ambitious target before the Glasgow talks.

At the heart of the European road map is increased prices for carbon. Nearly every sector of the economy would have to pay a price for the emissions it produces, affecting things like the cement used in construction and the fuel used by cruise ships. Proposed taxes on imports of goods made outside the European Union, in countries with less stringent climate policies, could potentially invite disputes at the World Trade Organization.

Lexington, The Economist, July 17, 2021

The Republican anti-vax delusion

Today on Our World in Data, Canada has vaccinated just over 71% of its population. And, 51% of its populations is fully vaccinated. The US sits at about 55% partially vaccinated and 48% fully vaccinated. Canada doses over 1% of its population every day. The US struggles to move beyond 0.1% of its population. The US has all the vaccines it needs to inoculate its population. States have demonstrated efficiency in getting people jabbed. What has happened? Populous conservatives have gone from TRUMPeting the success of vaccine development to discouraging the shot?

Personally, I think the Democrats have purposely made this a political issue. This is an efficient way to permanently suppress the Republican vote. Ninety-nine percent of Covid 19 deaths are amongst the unvaccinated.

Anti-Vax Demonstrators in Germany


…………Past anti-vax movements have been disparate, fringe and, at least on an individual basis, responsive to patient dissuasion. Their adherents have included rich Californian suburban moms, gulled by misinformation about the risks of immunising babies, and poor African-Americans, with a part-justified suspicion of the medical profession………

Anti-covid vax sentiment on the right, by contrast, is fuelled by the country’s deepest divisions; and, the conservative entrepreneurs, in media and politics, who aggravate them. It explains why America’s vaccination rate has slowed in recent weeks. This despite the availability of vaccines, an uptick in infections and deaths, and the fact that a third of adults have not received a first dose. Surveys suggest this large minority is overwhelmingly Republican. It represents half the party’s voters, predictably dominated by its most pessimistic and conspiracy-prone groups, white evangelicals and rural folk: the Trumpian base.

Tammie Teclamariam and Marguerite Preston, The Wirecutter – New York Times, November 26,2020

How to Clean Wine Glasses

This is a good news story. I like wine – I hate washing wine glasses. At our house, the process includes soap and lots of hot water, careful hand washing, meticulously drying and shining each glass individually. Now (and I missed this article in November) the NYT tells me that I should just stick them in the dishwasher. I don’t think I will get away with this at our house but you might. Also for wine lovers, check out The Wine Show. I stumbled across it accidentally.


Few sights are more unwelcome after a party than a backlog of dirty wine glasses rounded up like stained trophies. Washing all that stemware by hand is a slippery, tedious task. But, as it turns out, hand washing is not the best way to clean wine glasses, anyway.

While we were testing for our guide to the best wine glasses, we learned that manufacturers of even the thinnest, most expensive stemware recommend washing wine glasses in the dishwasher. Counterintuitive as it may seem, you’re far likelier to break delicate stemware when you’re washing it by hand.

Wine glasses in the dishwasher – a little tip to help enjoy summer and make a little more time to read.

Cities are in Crisis

March 7, 2024

Anastasia Mourogova Millin, March 5, 2024 Earth’s urban population will grow by 2.5 billion people over the next 30 years. Over the same time period, urban land expansion put at risk the survival of 855 different species and will threaten the homes of over 30,000 animal and plant species. Add in the impact of climate […]

The Co-working Concept, Issue 80

January 22, 2024

Co-working space came to mean the notorious We Work model. When I had been asked to opine on co-working I tried to steer the conversation away from the Adam Neumann / Softbank  flimflam growth model. Instead, I suggested that property owners look at usage and users. While I doubted We Work’s ability to survive I […]

The Affordable Housing Conundrum

October 3, 2023

Before I fall completely into the trap of opposition politics, I have decided to take a break from never-ending criticism and to start suggesting solutions to the affordable housing conundrum. Do I have a plan? No, more a collection of ideas To start with, I think there are three key issues: Home ownership is not […]

We Should Know Better

August 26, 2023

I know! I am going to sound like a grumpy old man. Maybe that is because I am. I have been scratching my head in wonderment at the Taylor Swift phenomena. Is she an Incredible song writer, composer, and performer? I really don’t know! A discussion for another time? But probably not. At my age […]

Not in My Back Yard

August 4, 2023

Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor  in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]

Glasgow – That Dear Green Place

July 31, 2023

We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie  and Norry Wilson.  So,  we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]