Recent quotes:

Street walking as subversion

“There is still this element of transgression for a woman to walk in public and claim her space and claim her right to be there without being spoken to or troubled or commented on or even looked at with anything other than neutrality,” says Elkin. Women bothering or stalking men on the streets—like Calle—tend to be seen as subversive or crazy; men bothering or stalking women on the streets, by contrast, are seen perhaps as unfortunate but to be expected. The flâneuse has always had to deal with this unequal expectation. Her accomplishments, therefore, have been even harder won.

The secrets of the world's happiest cities | Society | The Guardian

Researchers for Hewlett-Packard convinced volunteers in England to wear electrode caps during their commutes and found that whether they were driving or taking the train, peak-hour travellers suffered worse stress than fighter pilots or riot police facing mobs of angry protesters. But one group of commuters report enjoying themselves. These are people who travel under their own steam, like Robert Judge. They walk. They run. They ride bicycles.

Futuristic Simulation Finds Self-Driving “Taxibots” Will Eliminate 90% Of Cars, Open Acres Of… — The Ferenstein Wire — Medium

A fascinating new simulation finds that self-driving cars will terraform cities: 90% of cars will be eliminated, acres of land will open up, and commute times will drop 10%. A team of transportation scientists at the Organization for Cooperation and Development took data on actual trips in Lisbon, Portugal and looked at how a fleet of self-driving, shared “taxibots” would change city landscape [PDF]. These “taxibots”, the researchers imagine, are a marriage of mass carpooling and UPS delivery intelligence: they constantly roam throughout cities and match carpool routes with mathematical elegance. Ultimately, they estimate, 9 out of 10 cars would be completely unnecessary — as would public transit.

Roman rubbish dump reveals secrets of ancient trading networks - Telegraph

They are calculating the huge quantities of olive oil and wine that Rome imported in order to supply its civilian population as well as its vast legions as they pushed the boundaries of the Roman Empire ever further outwards in the first and second centuries AD. Some of the amphorae were used to transport “garum”, a smelly sauce made from fermented fish blood and intestines that the Romans relished as a condiment. The inscriptions even identify the makers of the amphorae and the names of the traders who imported them to Rome.

Joe Queenan on the Joys of Los Angeles - WSJ

I have long suspected that the East Coast is basically a joke that those of us from New York, Philly, Baltimore and, of course, New Jersey don’t want to let the rest of the country in on. We are all insanely envious of people who live in L.A. and we spend our entire adult lives pretending otherwise. We wish that we could live someplace where it is 88 degrees in March, where you can knock off work early and go bodysurfing, where glorious vegetation grows all year round, where no one owns an anorak or leggings and few own a sweater, where no one walks around looking like Nosferatu. Instead, we live someplace where it might snow on Opening Day. The East Coast—and New York in particular—is hard, mean, brooding, angry, obsessive, unhealthy, self-referential, emotionally undernourished and no fun. With very poor skin tone.

life in larger communities = higher tolerance for risk?

Adami and his team tested many variables that influence risk-taking behavior and concluded that certain conditions influence our decision-making process. The decision must be a rare, once-in-a-lifetime event and also have a high payoff for the individual’s future – such as the odds of producing offspring. How risk averse we are correlates to the size of the group in which we were raised. If reared in a small group – fewer than 150 people – we tend to be much more risk averse than those who were part of a larger community.
An earlier experiment, with a single user walking around Lincoln Center, yielded a data visualization that the team is using as a prototype. Collins told me that it reflected an interesting result: when the subject was in parts of the Lincoln Center plaza that are more open to the city’s streets, he recorded more “meditative” brain waves; when he was in the more enclosed and architecturally circumscribed, ultramodernist part of the campus, his response was more attentive.
The benefits of connecting with others also turn out to be contagious. Dr. Epley and Ms. Schroeder found that when one person took the initiative to speak to another in a waiting room, both people reported having a more positive experience. Far from annoying people by violating their personal bubbles, reaching out to strangers may improve their day, too.
In 1880, the top verbs associated with jobs in metro areas include “thread,” “stretch,” “sew,” and “braid” (perhaps a tribute to clothes, shoe, and rope manufacturing). Among the least-used verbs are “teach,” “conduct,” and “rule.” In this early period, cities were centers of specialized manufacturing processes, while more dynamic jobs were often centered in rural areas. By 2000, the pattern is reversed. The most common verbs (“develop,” “determine,” “analyze”) are strongly suggestive of knowledge-driven management. The least-used verbs (“restrain,” “cut,” “power”) are strongly suggestive of work on a factory floor — which there is less and less of in most cities. Now, cities are centers for interactive economic activities, while more specialized activities have shifted to outlying areas.