Monthly Archives: April 2012

Why Amsterdam, Copenhagen are bike friendly cities

“The bicycle was regarded, more than most places in the world — as ‘good for society,’” he writes in an email. “After the bicycle boom in the late 1800s, many cycling clubs merged and then many of them merged again, morphing into cyclist ‘unions’, with political goals. What happened in most countries in the early 20th century was that sports cycling organizations were formed to further cycling as sport…. Not so in Denmark and the Netherlands. The cyclist unions — meaning organizations for promoting cycling as transport, etc. — stayed strong and separate and they gained political influence.”

Still, that didn’t stop planners from ripping out cycle tracks and starting to design streets for cars as Europe modernized in the wake of World War II. By the early 1960s, much of the cycling infrastructure that had existed in the pre-war era was gone, and the percentage of the population using bicycles for transportation fell to an all-time low of 10 percent.

Then history intervened. “The energy crisis in 1973 hit Denmark hard. Very hard,” writes Colville-Andersen. “Car-free Sundays were introduced in order to save fuel. Every second streetlight was turned off in order to save energy. A groundswell of public discontent started to form. People wanted to be able to ride their bicycles again — safely. Protests took place…. The energy crisis faded, but then returned in 1979. More protests. One form of protest/awareness was painting white crosses on the asphalt where cyclists had been killed. This time, things happened. We started to rebuild our cycle track network in the early 1980s. Fatalities and injuries started falling. The network was expanded.

learn more about bikes in each city, and a video, atThe Atlantic Cities

 

// Photo – Moyan_brenn

Send Slate your pictures of #walkfail – useless sidewalks, missing crosswalks, etc.

Slate wants your pics of useless sidewalks, missing crosswalks, dangerous shoulders and anything else that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe walking.

The most interesting images will be featured on a gallery on Slate.

Deadline: May 1

How to Submit

  • Email: send it to us at unwalkable@gmail.com.
  • Flickr: Tag your photo #walkfail and upload to Flickr.
  • Instagram: Tag your image #walkfail and upload to Instagram.
via Slate

Handplane Hoedown – try out new handplanes for bodysurfing

There is a new trend in surfing, well, rather bodysurfing. A group of environmentalists and shapers have begun crafting the most beautiful handplanes. These items are mini surfboards that you strap to your hand and get low in the water. They let you go fast, real fast and barrel on almost any wave.

Ed Lewis of Enjoy Handplanes describes how it works:

The second best part about Handplanes (first is how much fun they are) is that all of them are made out of recycled or sustainable material. Some are made out of wood, others out of broken and trashed boards.

A few of the companies are putting together a Handplane Hoedown to try out these things:

  • Saturday, May 5, 2012
  • Sunrise to ???
  • Southern California – San Clemente State Beach
  • Facebook Event Page

This is not a contest in any way, shape or form. Just a day of fun (ie. Fish Fry) to celebrate the handplane. NO POSTERS, NO BANNERS, NO SALES, NO T-SHIRTS. All word of mouth. This event is for everyone, from the first time garage made handplanes, to the super refined handplanes that are being sold in shops. If you’re into the food tray thing, bring that too. There will be representatives with Demo Planes from Hess, Surfcraft Co-op, Enjoy, and Brownfish, plus any and all other company’s are welcome to bring handplanes for the masses to try-out. Please spread the word via facebook, twitter, instagram, etc.

Hess Handplanes
Enjoy
Brownfish
Surfcraft Co-op

 

// Thx to Enjoy Handplanes

 

Amazon has more than tripled it’s workforce since the recession began (and ended)

Amazon.com added 9,400 employees to its payroll in the quarter ended March 31. That’s the biggest single quarter of headcount growth in Amazon’s history.

The company now employs 65,600 full- and part-time workers worldwide.

With its current trajectory, Amazon is rapidly approaching Microsoft in size. Microsoft employs more than 93,000 but hasn’t been growing as quickly as in the past. More than 40,000 of Microsoft’s employees are in the Seattle region; Amazon doesn’t break down its employment by region.

via Geek Wire

 

Seattle from Alki Beach, by Bala

In February, 2012, Amazon purchased 3 million square feet of office space in Seattle, that would more than double their existing office space of 2 million square feet:

In one of Seattle’s biggest real-estate deals in years, fast-growing Amazon.com has agreed to buy three blocks in Seattle’s Denny Triangle — and preliminary paperwork has been filed with the city to build a 1 million-square-foot office tower on each of them.

The deal includes options for Amazon to buy even more of Denny Triangle holdings.

“In terms of economic development and new jobs for Seattle, this is off the charts,” Al Clise said.

via Seattle Times

So, why is Amazon dominating the recession and post-recession?

With physical retail in a continued decade-long slump, it’s a no-brainer that they are “eating their lunch.”

Though, it’s possible that Amazon is ramping up in another area, secretly, as they have been known to do.

* * *

On another note, I tried to find perspective on the size of these companies. I found that, according to reports (pdf), the total size of the tech industry in United States is 4.15 million. Which is an all-time high for the industry bouncing back from 2008, the last time numbers were this good.

I also found that Foxconn and it’s parent company employ 836,000 workers, third largest in the world, and IBM employs 427,000, tenth largest in the world.

 

// Photo – Bala

Whale Wars confronts slaughter of Pilot whales in the Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands fishermen wade into a shallow bay to kill a pod of pilot whales in a hunt called a "grind." Sea Shepherd has launched a new show called "Whale Wars: Viking Shores" to focus attention on the hunt.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, capitalizing on the tremendous success of their Animal Planet TV show, “Whale Wars,” has now taken on a new battle. With the Japanese fleet’s Antarctic hunt finished for the season, the skull-and-crossbones crew have turned their attention on the Faroe Islands with a new show: Whale Wars: Viking Shores

In the Faroe Islands, the oceangoing conservation outfit is not hectoring a faceless, corporate, government-subsidized commercial whaling outfit with massive factory ships that kill whales in the name of “research.” On this grouping of 18 small islands in the North Atlantic, a Danish protectorate situated between Iceland and Scotland, the people kill pilot whales by hand, on the shore, as part of a traditional hunt called the “Grind,” (pronounced “grinned”) which residents say is thousands of years old.

The Grind is not pretty, and “Viking Shores” pulls no punches. The Faroese send boats out into the ocean to find pilot whales, which are cetaceans not as large as the fin or minke whales hunted by the Japanese, but are slightly bigger than dolphins. Then they herd the mammals toward one of several dozen beaches on the islands, where residents lie in wait. As the powerful creatures beach themselves in panic, hunters wade into them with long curved hooks and slaughter the whole pod in a bloody frenzy. The Faroese eat a lot of pilot whale.

via LA Times

The second episode of “Viking Shores” airs Friday at 9 p.m. on Animal Planet.

* * *

Read an interview with Sea Shepherd captain and environmental warrior, Paul Waston, on what it’s like to confront the Faroes people on their ancient tradition.

Download episode  1 – Bad Blood for free on iTunes (warning: link opens iTunes).