The Joys of Being an Absolute Beginner – For Life

“Children, in a very real sense, have beginners’ minds, open to wider possibilities. They see the world with fresher eyes, are less burdened with preconception and past experience, and are less guided by what they know to be true.”

Source: The Guardian
Published: Jan 7, 2021
Length: 6 minutes (1,628 words)

Did Airbnb Kill the Mountain Town?

“Not only are short-term rentals squeezing the last drops out of the housing supply, but more pro­foundly, they are threatening the very character that drew in locals—and tourists.”

Source: Outside
Published: Jul 11, 2017
Length: 18 minutes (4,671 words)

Inside the Mad, Mad World of TripAdvisor

How the social travel site changed the way we plan our trips.

Source: Outside
Published: Mar 13, 2015
Length: 20 minutes (5,032 words)

The Crisis in American Walking

How did pedestrians become an endangered species in the United States—and why is the word “pedestrian” wrong anyway? First in a four-part series:

“A few years ago, at a highway safety conference in Savannah, Ga., I drifted into a conference room where a sign told me a ‘Pedestrian Safety’ panel was being held.

“The speaker was Michael Ronkin, a French-born, Swiss-raised, Oregon-based transportation planner whose firm, as his website notes, ‘specializes in creating walkable and bikeable streets.’ Ronkin began with a simple observation that has stayed with me since. Taking stock of the event—one of the few focused on walking, which gets scant attention at traffic safety conferences—he wondered about that inescapable word: pedestrian. If we were to find ourselves out hiking on a forest trail and spied someone approaching at a distance, he wanted to know, would we think to ourselves, ‘Here comes a pedestrian’?”

Source: Slate
Published: Apr 10, 2012
Length: 10 minutes (2,618 words)

Let the Robot Drive

Self-driving car technology is advancing rapidly. But how comfortable can we get with the idea?

“Beyond bureaucracy, there are deeper legal questions. Ryan Calo, director for privacy and robotics at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, which is studying the legal framework for quasi-autonomous vehicles, notes how active the liability landscape already is when it comes to cars’ safety features. ‘People sue over all kinds of stuff. People sue because some feature that was supposed to protect them didn’t. People sue because their car didn’t have a blind-spot warning when other cars at the same price point did.’ Imagine the complexity we’ll have when cars drive themselves. Who will be responsible for their operation—the car companies or the drivers? What happens, for example, when a highway patrol officer pulls over a self-driving car? Who gets the ticket?”

Source: Wired
Published: Jan 24, 2012
Length: 23 minutes (5,861 words)

Long Live the Industrial City

Beneath the well-chronicled narrative of garment industry decline I began to see another set of truths: that the garment industry is still New York City’s largest manufacturing sector by employment; that the production, service, and supply businesses that remain play a vital, if underappreciated, role in the larger fashion industry of New York; and that even with the emergence of instant communications and far-flung supply chains—not to mention the pressures exerted by landlords looking to convert industrial space into more profitable offices—there are still compelling reasons why this industrial network continues to cluster in midtown Manhattan.

Published: Apr 6, 2011
Length: 16 minutes (4,054 words)

Rage Against Your Machine: Drivers vs. Cyclists in America

“As a couples therapist, I tell people that we take things so personally,” he says as we near the Whitestone Bridge, on the first dedicated bike path we’ve seen in more than two hours. It’s easy, when a car edges too close or cuts him off, to “go to that paranoid place where they’re just trying to fuck with me. We’re so worried that someone else can steal our sense of self that we fight for it at every turn.” But it could have been just that the driver didn’t see him. Under the spell of what’s called “inattentional blindness,” people have been known to miss obvious things simply because they’re not looking for them. Either that or what seems inconsequential in a car—passing by within a foot or two—can be terrifying to someone on a bike.

Source: Outside
Published: Feb 21, 2011
Length: 19 minutes (4,865 words)

Underground Psychology

Researchers have been spying on us on the subway. Here’s what they’ve learned.

Source: Slate
Published: Nov 17, 2009
Length: 14 minutes (3,642 words)

What Would Get Americans Biking to Work?

Decent parking.

Source: Slate
Published: Aug 17, 2009
Length: 5 minutes (1,429 words)

Data Center Overload

Much of the daily material of our lives is now dematerialized and outsourced to a far-flung, unseen network. The stack of letters becomes the e-mail database on the computer, which gives way to Hotmail or Gmail. The clipping sent to a friend becomes the attached PDF file, which becomes a set of shared bookmarks, hosted offsite.

Published: Jun 8, 2009
Length: 16 minutes (4,192 words)