This was on Stateline last week and I thought it was pretty interesting!
29th September, 2003 11:55:19
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Deaths and Destruction
This is vaguely planning related, lest I be accused by Anthony of drifting off-topic again.
Amongst many notable deaths in the last few weeks, a few individuals were involved to planning. No, not Slim Dusty, unless you think "The Pub With No Beer" was an impassioned argument against liquor licensing. But Garrett Hardin, originator of the phrase "Tragedy of the Commons" and author of the "Population Bomb". The original essay is here. FWIW, there are loads of sustainability related essays on the same site.
Also - and this isn't planning related - Edward Said. The implications of which, for Middle East peace, cannot possibly be positive. David Sucher (or City Comforts) writes what he learned from Edward Said, which is good advice.
Finally, there is an excellent exhibition on at the City Gallery at the Melbourne Town Hall (go through the HalfTix section) called Fire and Flood in the Heart of Melbourne. We should be glad that the semi-annual floods and muddy streets that used to afflict Melbourne are no more. I don't think it is untrue to say that the first mark of a civilised society is the humble paving stone. The idea of rafting across Elizabeth Street isn't appealing.
28th September, 2003 18:20:48
[#] [3 comments]
The Big Urban Game
Posting heavily today, but I forgot to mention this when I saw it a fortnight ago, and I thought it was pretty cool. It's a game within the city itself. In this case, a race between three teams around the urban environment in Minneapolis.
More info here.
20th September, 2003 12:24:51
[#] [6 comments]
What price, which environment?
There is an op-ed in The Age today by Ted Baillieu, the shadow planning minister on coastal wind farms. The basic thrust, that wind farms ruin their local environment. Mostly aesthetically, but also with surrounding infrastructure such as roads and power lines. The problem being, that the government and industry want to place them up and down the coast line where the wind blows best.
Now, obviously there is an environmental benefit to wind farms: they don't produce greenhouse gases being the main one. But the question is, what do we value more? Should we prefer a change - possibly negative - to the overall environment, and substantial degredation in the Latrobe Valley; or, significant changes and possibly damage along parts of the coastline environment; or, to even larger parts of our inland plains?
The 'market' can't decide. Not because it would be incapable, but because the integrity of the environment is not properly priced (an externality in other words). If it did, you would rarely develop on the coast. The supply of undeveloped coastlines is so low, and the demand for so high, that few, if any, projects would be deemed 'cost-efective'.
But what do you think, are our energy needs a purely political problem? Or is there a way to balance the environmental costs with the economic and social ones?
20th September, 2003 12:15:06
[#] [9 comments]
Something notable for your perusal
The other day I picked up a copy of George Orwell's Essays (an hour to kill and a bookstore is always a recipe for spending for me). Now, obviously some of them are interesting, but one in particular is well known, and for good reason. That is his "Politics and the English Language".
Like all great factual pieces it is basically a rant. In this case, against bad habits when writing, which we all make, but which (in those days) he felt were becoming increasingly common. What strikes me is how commonly it occurs in the interminable readings we are subjected to for Policy. Yeatman, Bashevkin, Squires, Carabine, Bacchi ... need I go on?
Orwell characterised them very well:
"Each of these passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The first is stateless of imagery: the other is lack of precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing."
More succinctly: if it isn't immediately obvious what you are saying, you are either a bad writer, or you're talking shit. Or both, and one of Orwell's points is that they tend to go together. Now, eventually it is possible to fathom the meaning of the essays we've been given; but the need to work at it dillutes the message. The fact that that message is often needlessly repeated, or buried under mountains of irrelevant, meaningless prose makes me suspect that Orwell is onto something.
But, Orwell wasn't merely a complainer, he had some good advice as well; and, since we have to write essays ourselves now, and in the future, they are worth repeating.
"A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably long?"
"When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualizing you probably hunt about till you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meanings as clear as one can through pictures or sensations."
I think the following rules will cover most cases:
i. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
ii. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
iii. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
iv. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
v. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
vi. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous."
Nevertheless, read the whole thing.
18th September, 2003 01:21:15
[#] [1 comment]
Of Light Rail...
Seeing as you're all for light rail transit systems, Russ, I've done a little googling and found some interesting sites pertaining to everyone's favourite method of mass transit, LIGHT RAIL!
North American Light Rail page
Light Rail Now! A site detailing global light rail stuff.
Light Rail used as a consevation tool
A history of Melbourne's Trams
17th September, 2003 21:39:44
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Article: "Trouble with the Neighbours"
The Insight section of The Age for Saturday, September 13 has an small article of interest.
"Trouble with the Neighbours.
The battle between development and heritage has hotted up again, with all parties attacking an overloaded planning system."
It speaks of Michael Buxton's new report on the state of the planning system, the first since Labor cam into power in 1999.
13th September, 2003 09:48:13
[#] [2 comments]
Of Platforms and such...
Well, today I decided to go and investigate Platforms 12 and 13 in Flinders Street Station...
Needless to say, I was shocked and appalled at the disgusting waste of space under there! Seriously! It's quite dark and confined there, but I daresay the area could be used...in some way or another. Perhaps you all (all 7 of you now! )can suggest ways in which the area can be utilised in a more holistic and social way. At the moment, it' just a horrible dank alley with the occassional Vline train passing through. It could be so much more!!
Thus ends my attempt at bringing this site to life.
Tales of the City
11th September, 2003 22:34:40
[#] [7 comments]
Aie, I found this and thought it was pretty interesting, funny, amusing.
"MELBOURNE 2030 UNDERESTIMATES GROWTH, HIA SAYS"
Its dated but I guess still relevant.
11th September, 2003 09:33:13
[#] [2 comments]
Sustainable Cities 2025
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage is conducting an inquiry into "Sustainable Cities".
Submissions to the inquiry are being sought by Friday 31 October 2003. Roundtable forums will be held to collect further evidence after the submissions have been collected.
Click here for a copy of the Committee's discussion paper and Terms of Reference.
It's interesting that the members of the Committee are mostly from outer metropolitan electorates, rural or provincial electorates - with one exception, the Member for Dennison (Tas), the Honourable Duncan Kerr (a former Minister in the Keating Government). Most of the members are from Victoria and none are from the territories, or from SA or WA - the states whose capital cities are by far the most sprawled.
I'll wait and see what the "Sustainable Cities 2025" report delivers later this year once the submissions have been considered. It'll be a delightfully humerous read - considering how responsible the Federal Government is for urban planning issues (i.e. it's a state/local govt responsibility). It may create a benchmark for states to follow but most likely it'll be a big "bitch-slap" to the states.
Hip-hip hooray for the political (and partisan) mileage that can be made from state-federal disputes at the moment.
4th September, 2003 19:15:23
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