Why is flaking so widespread in San Francisco?

Posted on February 2nd, 2018

In an email exchange with Brian Lui, he asked me an interesting question about the rate of flaking in San Francisco: I had a brief question too. I've read that the rate of "flaking" in San Francisco is really high, because everyone is so busy and there is so much to do. But then I thought, wouldn't that lead to an extra strong norm against flaking, because your time is too precious to get flaked on by someone? Apparently this doesn't happen and it's socially acceptable to flake. I feel really...

Other people are just as multifaceted as you

Posted on February 2nd, 2018

Most people seem to think of themselves as “at the edge" of several communities rather than defined by a single identity. It’s easy to think of yourself as special and that other people are more singularly defined, but that’s a bias stemming from the fact that you’re mostly seeing people in the context of just one of the communities they’re a part of. It can be hard to remember: you just don’t have visibility into their other thoughts and other aspects of their life.

Japanese street networks

Posted on February 1st, 2018

Street networks in Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo are highly connected. The streets are narrow, and the blocks are short, which feels more human-scale and creates more opportunity for diversity. Pedestrians feel comfortable in these dense networks, which encourages walking and biking. This Kyoto side street would barely be enough space between buildings to conform to most American zoning codes, let alone to count as a street. Short blocks break the social isolation of wide, long streets. Pedestria...

Empathy for the Devil

Posted on October 8th, 2017

History is too often reduced to stories of good versus evil. We get the impression that we are somehow different from the people who were bad, and we take for granted that we would never make similar choices. We should learn to empathize with those who make terrible choices — not to pardon their choices nor to deny ourselves the right to grieve, but to recognize when we might be heading down a similar path. If we see them as people and understand where they went wrong, we can avoid making the...

Subsidizing Suburbia series

Posted on July 30th, 2017

Subsidizing Suburbia: A forgotten history of how the government created suburbiaFinancing Suburbia: How government mortgage policy determined where you liveExempting Suburbia: How suburban sprawl gets special treatment in our tax codePaving Suburbia: How federal projects reshaped your community around the automobile (coming soon!)Zoning Suburbia: How single-use zoning is responsible for your 45-minute commute (coming soon!)

Unambiguous Webpack config with Typescript

Posted on June 19th, 2017

You can write your Webpack config in Typescript, and it’ll save you a huge amount of pain. Webpack’s docs would lead you to believe that using Typescript requires a hacky customized set up, but in fact it’s as simple as installing a single module and changing your extensions from .js to .ts! You can find the rest of the post at the Webpack blog.

Ode to Audio: Why You Should Give Podcasts and Audiobooks a Chance

Posted on August 25th, 2016

I love doing chores. The more time-consuming they are, the better. I jump at opportunities to empty the dishwasher, and grocery shopping is a highlight of my week. I don’t even mind sorting the trash, as long as I have my phone and some earbuds handy. I used to dread housework as much as the next person. But that all changed when John introduced me to podcasts and audiobooks two years ago. Mundane tasks have become opportunities to learn, to relax, and to listen to stories I might never hea...

Podcast & Audiobook Starter Kit

Posted on August 24th, 2016

In my previous post, I compiled a list of reasons why on-demand audio is great. Evangelism works best when you make it easy to hit the ground running, so here are a few tips and recommendations. Hopefully this will lower the activation energy for getting started. Podcasts You can download my complete list of subscriptions as an opml file or as more readable json.You should be able to load the opml into most podcast apps by going into Settings and finding some sort of “import" button.As a wa...

We Should Be Building Cities for People, Not Cars

Posted on August 19th, 2016

The way we live is shaped by our infrastructure — the public spaces, building codes, and utilities that serve a city or region. It can act as the foundation for thriving communities, but it can also establish unhealthy patterns when designed poorly. For decades, San Francisco’s waterfront was dominated by the massive Embarcadero Freeway. The Ferry Building was hidden in the shadow of a grungy overpass, and the double decker highway blocked residents’ access to the bay all along the eastern ed...

Google Maps Convinced Me to Ditch My Car

Posted on June 30th, 2016

I am always a little embarrassed when people find out that I had a car in college. I'm a transit geek after all, and I always encourage friends to take public and on-demand transit rather than generate congestion and consume parking spots. Despite all this, I drove multiple times each week last year, because I felt like it was my only real option to get to places I needed to go around the Bay Area. Now, I rarely drive anymore, and I've become an avid user of public transit. Increasingly, my c...