Summary of “Does Tech Need Silicon Valley?”

Crucially, Case theorized, many of the disruptors would not live in Silicon Valley.
Steve Case likes to remind people that Silicon Valley wasn’t always the epicenter of tech culture.
Poring over the available data, Case discovered that plenty of Midwestern and Southwestern cities were leveraging tax incentives to stanch local brain drain, and a few, such as Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, were cultivating their own robust startup scenes.
As Case saw it, there was value in telling the story of communities that had been historically overlooked by investors - in drawing attention to them and “Making them magnets for capital.” Because he was Steve Case, media followed: In 2016, when the tour expanded to five cities, including Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, there were reporters waiting outside the bus.
“Out west, there’s a depth of talent, and there’s a mercenary culture where people jump around from startup to startup,” Case said.
Shortly after the last presidential election, Steve Case had drinks with the venture capitalist J.D. Vance at Riggsby, a bar off Dupont Circle in downtown Washington, D.C. Case lives in the capital; Vance, the author of the bestselling Hillbilly Elegy, about the poor, white communities of the Midwest, was in town for an appearance on one of the Sunday talk shows.
For months, Case had been batting around the idea of raising cash for the logical next step in his Rise initiative - a massive seed fund for early-stage startups outside of Boston, New York, or California.
In a TED talk-ish introduction, Case reminded the audience that “America itself was a startup” and recalled the days when major technology companies - from IBM to AOL - had sprouted up far from Silicon Valley.

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Summary of “7 International Cities Where You Could Live in Luxury Without Breaking the Bank”

An echo of peace permeates the city, emanating from the many ornate Buddhist temples lying within the old city walls.
Your riad costs you just over $400 a month, and you navigate the city with a monthly rail pass that you bought for just about $15. The exchange rate sits at.11 cents for every Moroccan Dirham, so you’ll have a large budget for weekend spa tratments at the hamams.
You could eat a full meal at a restaurant there for just $4, get yourself a nice bottle of wine for just $10, navigate the city for just $21 per month and rent a three-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city center for just over $500 a month.
Though the city is notorious for having been the murder capital of the world during the reign of terror of Pablo Escobar, crime rates have dropped significantly in the years since his death.
The city champions culture by way of art and gastronomy-you could eat a nice meal at a restaurant for just $2 or cook at home in your $300-ish apartment in the center of it all.
Getting around the city is simple, too, since La Paz boasts the world’s longest and highest urban cable car network, the Mi Teleférico.
The Vltava River bisects this capital city, nicknamed “The City of a Hundred Spires” for its tapering conical and pyramidal skyscrapers.
Prague is actually ranked number 44 on the Nomad Index of the best cities in the world for expats.

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Summary of “Silicon Valley Is Over, Says Silicon Valley”

In a recent Financial Times op-ed, Mr. Moritz argued that Silicon Valley had become slow and spoiled by its success, and that “Soul-sapping discussions” about politics and social injustice had distracted tech companies from the work of innovation.
Complaints about Silicon Valley insularity are as old as the Valley itself.
Even among those who enjoy living in the Bay Area, and can afford to do so comfortably, there’s a feeling that success has gone to the tech industry’s head.”Some of the engineers in the Valley have the biggest egos known to humankind,” Mr. Khanna, the Silicon Valley congressman, said during a round-table discussion with officials in Youngstown.
Despite the existence of tools like Slack, which make remote work easier, many tech workers feel it’s still an advantage to be close to the center of the action.
Then there is HQ2, Amazon’s much-ballyhooed search for a second headquarters, which seems to have convinced some tech executives that cities between the coasts may be viable alternatives.
Tech companies are more popular in noncoastal states than in their own backyards, where the industry’s effect on housing prices and traffic congestion is more acutely felt.
Most large tech companies still rate highly in national opinion surveys, but only 62 percent of Californians say they trust the tech industry, and just 37 percent trust social media companies, according to the Edelman survey.
During the Akron stop of the bus trip, while the Silicon Valley investors mingled with local officials over a dinner spread of vegan polenta pizza and barbecue sliders, Mr. McKenna, the San Francisco venture capitalist, told me that he felt a difference in people’s attitudes in cities like these, where the tech industry’s success is still seen as something to celebrate.

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Summary of “A New Bible for Bike Lanes”

In 2007, a local planner could read the entire MUTCD, as well as the Green Book and every other design standard released by AASHTO-including the bicycle-specific Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities-and not find any guidance to help design the kind of protected bike lanes that had already existed in Denmark and the Netherlands for 30 years.
Under the leadership of Gabe Klein, Washington, D.C., opened its first protected bike lane on 15th Street NW in 2010.Planners in Minneapolis, Portland, San Francisco, and many other cities were also eager to try out protected bike lanes.
How does one mix bike lanes and bus stops? Send the lane behind the bus stop, with enough space for bus riders to comfortably board and get off the bus.
What about when bike lanes and turn lanes meet? Give bikes their own exclusive signals, or create “Mixing zones,” shared spaces where people in cars and on bikes take turns entering the space.
The next edition of AASHTO’s guide to developing bike facilities is likely to include protected bike lanes.
As the research predicted, better bike lanes have led to far more people biking.
The publication of the NACTO bikeway guide didn’t directly result in the creation of any new bike lanes.
Protected bike lanes are growing thanks to one of the simplest technologies imaginable: a book of standards.

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Summary of “Malls and the future of American retail”

Piano isn’t the only capital-A architect working on the American mall.
SHoP Architects has three mall projects underway in New York right now: Empire Outlets, on Staten Island, the Market Line, part of the Essex Crossing megadevelopment, and Pier 17, where ground-floor retail and food by David Chang and Jean-Georges mingle with public waterfront.
The mall of the future is architecturally ambitious, includes plants and water features, judiciously sprinkled with local retailers and food options, and surrounded not by a donut of surface parking lot but with housing, hotels, even educational facilities.
“In the new projects we are doing, it is hard to see where the city stops and the shopping center starts,” says Matt Billerbeck, senior vice president at CallisonRTKL, an international design and planning firm that has worked on the Ala Moana Shopping Center, Tysons Corner Center, the King of Prussia, and many more high-performing malls.
Although born of the suburbs, the mall today is being reabsorbed by the city, internalizing parking and orienting itself to transit, even future transit like autonomous vehicles.
All the mockery of the idea of Apple Stores as “Town squares” multiplies tenfold-though malls, at least, must incorporate public bathrooms.
The new urban malls must be responsible about the semi-public part of the equation.
At City Point in downtown Brooklyn-the closest mall to my house-I’ve found a retail experience that promises improvement but offers less than the city surrounding it.

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Summary of “Welcome to the Age of Climate Migration”

The town has been hit repeatedly by recent hurricanes: In 2005, Rita savaged the city; three years later, Ike breached the city’s levee and flooded the streets with as much as 15 feet of water.
For city officials in at-risk cities, homeowners like Brown are terrifying.
Many officials fear a climate-driven exodus that pushes down property values, which in turn reduces property-tax revenues, which are central to funding city services like police and teachers, not to mention road repair and infrastructure maintenance, at precisely the moment when the city needs to spend more to adapt to climate change.
Moody’s Investor’s Service, the influential credit-rating agency, recently announced that it will weigh climate risks when analyzing ratings for states and cities, thus making borrowing money more expensive for places that ignore climate risks.
In the urban areas of the city, temperatures are amplified by a phenomenon called the “Urban-heat-island effect.” Concrete and asphalt absorb and radiate heat, turning the city into a kiln.
They have also unveiled a campaign to “Green” the city: The Phoenix City Council approved an ambitious new goal to reduce carbon pollution by 30 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, and a larger goal to achieve an 80 percent greenhouse-gas reduction by 2050, which allows Phoenix to exceed the requirements of the Paris Climate Accord.
At the same time, smaller Arizona cities like Flagstaff and Prescott, which do not have access to the Colorado River, depend on fragile groundwater supplies; if they get pumped dry, those cities will have to import millions of gallons of water a day, or become ghost towns.
U.C. Berkeley’s Hsiang sometimes compares cities like Miami, Houston and Phoenix with Angkor Wat, the 12th-century city in what is now Cambodia.

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Summary of “‘Living laboratories’: the Dutch cities amassing data on oblivious residents”

Since the data on Stratumseind is used to profile, nudge or actively target people, this “Smart city” experiment is subject to privacy law.
According to the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act, people should be notified in advance of data collection and the purpose should be specified – but in Stratumseind, as in many other “Smart cities”, this is not the case.
When we think of smart cities, we usually think of big projects: Songdo in South Korea, the IBM control centre in Rio de Janeiro or the hundreds of new smart cities in India.
In the eastern city of Enschede, city traffic sensors pick up your phone’s wifi signal even if you are not connected to the wifi network.
Like many cities, Utrecht argues that it acts in accordance with privacy laws because it anonymises or pseudonymises data.
Companies dictate the terms, and cities say they can’t share the contracts because it contains “Competition-sensitive information”.
“The culmination of the smart city is a privatised city,” he said.
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Summary of “Winter Olympics closing ceremony: why Pyeongchang will soon demolish the stadium it built”

Pyeongchang, South Korea, built a brand new Olympic stadium to host the Winter Games this year.
The reason Pyeongchang plans to destroy the arena is pretty straightforward: The county it’s situated in has about 40,000 people; in order to fill the stadium after the Olympics and the Paralympics are over, almost every single person living in the area would have to attend an event there simultaneously to fill it up.
Then the 2022 Winter Olympics and 2024 Summer Olympics managed to get only two bidders each.
For the 2024 Games, the International Olympic Committee decided to do something unprecedented: Instead of choosing between the only two bidders, Paris and Los Angeles, it decided to award Paris the 2024 Summer Olympics and give Los Angeles the 2028 Summer Olympics.
The two most expensive Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics in history were hosted by China and Russia respectively – Beijing in 2008, which cost $40 billion, and Sochi in 2014, which cost $51 billion.
The final two bidders for the 2024 Olympics were Paris and Los Angeles – both large cities that have hosted the Olympics before.
Los Angeles actually turned a profit hosting the Olympics in 1984 and is often singled out by experts as the best Olympics city in the world because of its exceptional sports and tourist infrastructure.
One idea is to have the Olympics rotate among a handful of host cities that have proven they can handle hosting without spending too much money and that will be able to reuse their Olympics facilities every 16 to 20 years.

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Summary of “Roads to nowhere: how infrastructure built on American inequality”

Like Trump’s wall and the 8-mile wall, infrastructure is not value-free – and the decisions made now will affect the future of inequality in our cities.
Commissioned by the federal government in the 1930s, these maps were critical to decisions of where and what type of infrastructure, lending and housing each neighbourhood of each American city would be able to receive.
“The FHA promoted home ownership in new – and primarily suburban – neighbourhoods so long as they were white and not ethnically or economically diverse,” writes Antero Pietila in Not in My Neighbourhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City.
West Baltimore is an exceptionally bleak area in an exceptionally poor, overwhelmingly black American city.
In the middle of this blight stands a monument to failed American city planning: a giant ditch that bisects West Baltimore neatly into north and south.
Despite the project winning federal approval and funding, incoming governor Larry Hogan cancelled the project, citing its cost, enraging the city government and large portions of the African American community.
Freeways, hospitals, universities and housing developments were planned and built, creating radical changes to the city fabric, including the destruction of vast amounts of housing to construct Route 10 and I-75.
Who has control over where these are placed? Who says how many there will be? How big? As the US gears up for its biggest infrastructure revitalisation project in decades, it is only by asking these questions and acknowledging the power of city planning to impact lives that we can hope to prevent the injustices of the past and fix those of the present.

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Summary of “What’s Actually Behind Cape Town’s Water Crisis”

Since 2009, the Western Cape, of which Cape Town is the capital, has been governed by the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition to the African National Congress.
Its near-messianic adherence to fiscal rectitude has meant that local bureaucrats have tended to ignore repeated warnings from civil engineers and climate scientists, who insisted that Cape Town’s water infrastructure, which relies exclusively on six dams in parched catchment areas, would not be able to meet demand should rainfall patterns change due to climate change.
One of the first warnings that Cape Town would run dry was published in the Cape Times in 1990.
Of course, you can’t tell this story without mentioning the national government, dominated since the dawn of democracy by the dysfunctional ANC. While South Africa’s constitution placed the municipal water systems under the stewardship of local government, management of the so-called “Bulk” national infrastructure-the larger networks that govern water delivery-falls to Department of Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.
Compounding all of this is the fact that the Cape Town government was unwilling to admit the scale of the crisis, even to itself, until the middle of last year.
This cued the usual complaints: Why should the wealthy, who pay the most in rates and taxes, effectively subsidize water consumption in poor communities and in the farmlands, while facing a curtailment of the services they effectively underwrite? And why should high-income, tourist-friendly neighborhoods like Mouille Point be forced to host potential desalination plants, noisy eyesores that could just as easily be set up in less “Desirable” communities? On the flipside, as a township resident and reporter named Suné Payne put it: “If my household of nine can survive on less than 350 liters of water a day, why can’t others?” In Cape Town, the poor have always faced water restrictions.
According to Richard Bosman, the city’s executive director for safety and security, “The risk grading will be done in accordance with the volume of people expected to pass through each water collection point, as well as the general crime trends in each area. Cape Town does have a number of gang hot spots and so this would be a crucial factor in determining whether a collection point is considered low or high risk.” There has been no elaboration on what this RoboCop-speak means, nor what it would entail.
So what is to be done? In an age in which both the climate and politicians have gone rogue, the only good thing that can come of Cape Town’s crisis is how eloquently its inhabitants come up with new definitions of resilience.

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