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...

The Death and Life of American Company Towns

Posted on June 29th, 2016

Google feeds its employees well. No Googler's desk is further than 150 feet from a "micro kitchen" stocked with goodies, and the campus is dotted with over 20 restaurants and cafes. Everything on the menu is free of charge to Googlers and their guests, and it includes specialities like creme brûlée and fresh handmade sushi. The perks of working at Google extend far beyond the free food and snacks. Google HQ contains a bowling alley, bocce ball courts, sand volleyball, and infinite swimming po...

Visual Technology

Posted on February 25th, 2016

Technology enables us to see the world in ways that are inaccessible to our natural senses. In opening these new worlds to us, it encourages introspection and discovery, inflates our cosmic egos, and then puts us back in our place. Discovery of perspective Visual technology plays a key role in human cognition and our sense of self. One primitive example is the mirror, which literally enables self reflection. Mirrors are so deeply ingrained in our conscious that they are part of its definitio...