Extreme YIMBYism

About a month ago in discussion I suggested that if neighbourhoods were required to manage their own waste, as in each maintain their own small landfill, things we change pretty darn fast. People would immediately drastically reduce their waste, and public support for extended producer responsibility would be high enough to enforce the kind of laws they have in places like Germany.

To advocate for such a proposal – putting a landfill in one’s own neighbourhood – is probably a tough sell. I was thinking that this is kind of a reverse NIMBYism, or YIMBYism, referring the the phenomenon of people not wanting any undesirable things which have to exist somewhere to be anywhere near them. YIMBY on Wikipedia is an interesting short article which introduced me to the similar concepts of BANANA and CAVE People (see the article) but also points to a narrower definition that would really include my landfill example. So a better description would have to be extreme yimbism.

In a related note, it seems that Toronto had its 4th Annual YIMBY Festival yesterday.

Also regarding the word “waste” I agree with Tom Watson that it should be treated only as a noun rather than a verb, which he alludes to in his recent post Why phone books matter on new producer responsibility legislation in Seattle.

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Toronto Election Polls

Following up a bit on my recent post, it seems I’m one of the data points in the latest Nanos Research poll (PDF).

While my vote is still undecided, the one thing I do know is that my least-desired choice by far (of the likely candidates) is Rob Ford, for plenty of reasons, the same candidate who this new poll says is now far ahead of everyone else. While this does seem dire, there are still tons of undecided voters. I decided to calculate a few stats, shown below. It’s just an screenshot from Excel, I’m too lazy to recode it in HTML

As you can see in the second-to-last column, the #2 candidate needs a “mere”; 3/4 (74%) of undecides to switch to him in order to be tying Ford for first place, or alternately, 37% of all votes that are now any other non-Ford candidate or undecided. That’s possible.

One quick way for a candidate to gain votes would be for another to drop out and endorse them. This would really only make sense for a candidate who has both no chance of winning and would prefer someone other than the current leading candidate of the remaining candidates. Of the likely candidates this only makes sense for Rossi and Thompson, whose combined votes added to #2 (Smitherman) would still be insufficient. Also a bit sad, since I’m leaning slightly towards preferring Thompson right now.

Anyhow, I made two visualizations of all the existing poll data which I grabbed from Wikipedia. I took out the two oldest polls, and otherwise ignored the sample sizes and margins of error, and I plotted the time of the poll as halfway between when it began and ended. I also hid all candidates who’ve withdrawn. For both graphs I’ve extended the horizontal axis (time) to go up to the date of the election so that it’s easier to see how much room there still is for changes.

Here you can see the undecides falling (but still high), and the rise of Rob Ford, somewhat by taking votes from Smitherman but mostly by converting undecideds. You can also observe the increase in poll frequency as we get closer to the election.

Here’s a slightly different way of looking at it, and I’ve added candidate photos (from Wikipedia mostly, Thompson’s from her website) for clarity. Note that the photos are sized roughly to fit, not according to any metric. Again, it’s clear that Forb’s increase came from the undecideds, having begun with almost no support at all. Contrast this with Smitherman, who seems to have almost the exact same support he started with.

Who knows, maybe Pantalone’s recent rise will turn into a momentum?

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Census Update: It’s the Economy, Stupid | eaves.ca

Census Update: It’s the Economy, Stupid | eaves.ca – this is driving me crazy. One of the most basic things a country needs to do is measure itself. The data is needed for the country to decide anything, as demonstrated by the half-dozen uses for the data noted in the linked-to blog post. Not carrying out the long form census, which the Canadian government has cancelled, is more on par with extremely poor countries. This really makes no sense at all.

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No Impact Man | LibraryThing

I’ve written before about how I now log the books I read. Oh, and my one complaint with LibraryThing from that post turns out to be wrong anyway. For the past dozen or so books I’ve read I’ve been intending to post actual reviews (rather than just /5 ratings), so here’s to me finally getting around to it.

I just finished No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan. I first heard about No Impact Man sometime before the book came out, read a couple of the blog posts, and didn’t find it that interesting, and when I started the book, I wasn’t really enjoying it.

Two things bothered me. Firstly, I hate how people who are relative newcomers to caring about stuff, do a lot better than I do, which I suppose would be better described as “guilt.” And secondly, he spoke and acted at the beginning as if nobody had ever tried very hard to do any of the things he was doing, and he was having to figure it all out for himself. I think the real problem was that he didn’t know any of the people who could have helped him out, at least not to start with.

Anyhow, after the first dozen or so pages, it got a lot better. While I expected the book to be about figuring out all the little changes he needed to do, that was just a small part. Most of the book is his prose which works through some of the scientific aspects of the project, but predominantly the philosophy, and the lifestyle changes which are largely improvements. It was great to read a book which reinforces and reminds me about what I already think and know of the better and more enjoyable lives we can all be having. A lot of ideas were actually very much in sync with the suggestions from the previous book I read (The Paradox of Choice), which I would describe as possibly the only self-help book worth reading.

In the end, I gave it 5/5. For context, you can see the distribution of my book ratings.

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Toronto Elections 2010

I’ve been largely ignoring all news about the Toronto mayoral election until it suddenly dawned upon me that I can vote this time, given my recent move back to Toronto. Better get informed…

Election website is here. The date is October 25th. How to get onto the voter’s list and ID documents required. Where to vote (unless you vote early) depends on what what ward you live in. Apparently in about a month there will be a better, map-based interactive tool for finding where to vote, so might as well wait until then if you’re going to vote on election day.

Regarding the mayor, there are 41 people running, although Wikipedia explains that there are only five considered to have a shot at winning. The polls listed in the table would suggest it’s more like two candidates, but then again 1/3 to 1/2 of people are apparently undecided. Unlike provincial or federal elections, there are no political parties, so we can’t be lazy and vote with the party we think is the best option, we need to actually do some research.

It seems that the two biggest issues are, not surprisingly, transportation (TTC, bike lanes, etc.), and the rather poor state of the city’s budget. If you’re only considering the five likely candidates, there is a decent page on each at Toronto News 24 which has a video and profile of each. More useful in terms of the issues is the similar page for each candidate at 680 News as they list each’s position on several issues explicitly. If they could just put it all on one page as a big table, we’d be set. For some more information on less likely candidates, there’s some good links compiled at jackandcokewithalime. For general election news, aside from the aforementioned websites and general Toronto news sources, there’s also Toronto Election News. Toronto Municipal Election News is also full of excellent links.

In addition to the mayor, you can also vote for the councillor in your ward, and school trustees, but you’ll have to go into that for yourself.

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The Ask.com Blog: Bloglines Update (and how I don’t get Twitter)

The Ask.com Blog: Bloglines Update – “update” is kind of an understatement, given that Ask is shutting down Bloglines. Bloglines was the tool I used for all of my newsreading (so second in importance after email) for years until, long after others had switched to Google Reader, I got tired of the increasing bugginess and made the switch myself.

It’s not particularly surprised that they’re shutting it down, given that they’ve let it languish since they purchased it, but I am a bit intrigued by the supposed reasons. People don’t use newsreaders anymore because everybody uses Twitter and Facebook. I just don’t get it. And by “it”, I largely mean Twitter…

I subscribe to a ton of RSS/Atom feeds in my newsreader for a number of different reasons: because I am interested in a topic and want to keep up with the news on that topic; because I like a person’s writing and want to read anything they do; because I’m friends with the person and want to keep up with their life; because I like a product/service/website and want to keep up with the news/changes to it; because I want to be alerted of various things, like when somebody mentions my website, or when a new photo is posted to Flickr around my house, etc.

So my “input” comes from my e-mail inbox (GMail), my newsreader (Google Reader), my social network (Facebook). In theory e-mail is for two-way conversations and my newsreader more for being broadcast to, in practice this is somewhat blurred. I had tried to fix this a bit with MailBucket, but that service is dead. Either way, they are both required parts of how I live. Facebook is good in that it lets me keep up with my friends in a passive way, in that the feed on the home page changes all the time, never shows everything, and does not keep track of what I have read or not. Like everything else though, it’s now become yet another source for general content.

Twitter, as far as I’m concerned, is microblogging, which is to say blogging (with a particular host), but always in short blog posts. So I can subscribe to interesting Twitter feeds in my regular newsreader, Google Reader. But why would I ever go to Twitter itself to read these? It creates an additional destination that lacks read/unread tracking. The other problem with Twitter is that the signal-to-noise ratio has gone way down, and I’m yet to see a compelling solution to this. And why would somebody who already has a blog, start blogging on Twitter? Why not keep using their existing blog?

Incidentally, I am subscribed in my newsreader to Mark Fletcher’s blog (the creator of Bloglines) and hadn’t seen him post about this… so I visit his blog and confirm that he has written no post about this. However in the sidebar, there’s his tweets, where he is of course, talking about this news.

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back online

It seems this blog was down, perhaps for a few days or so. Fixed now, it required a tweak in the .htaccess file… no idea why, perhaps Dreamhost changed something with mod_security.

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Getting space-saving furniture right: Resource Furniture – Core77

Getting space-saving furniture right: Resource Furniture – Core77 – I’ve seen the occasional piece of compact and/or multi-use furniture before (e.g. apartment in a box and Gary Chang’s flexible Hong Kong apartment, and generally the small house movement) but never such a huge collection from the same people before like this. And all of it is extremely well done from a space, aesthetic, and engineering point of view. The company, Resource Furniture seems to just be an American distributor of furniture from two other companies, CLEI and Sellex. I’d like to see these companies try to add integration with other parts of the house, such as the kitchen. Via Great City.

Update from October 8: Matroshka: A system of space-saving furniture that never was

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xkcd: University Website

xkcd: University Website – I couldn’t have said it any better

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Google Acquires Metaweb To Make Search Smarter

Google Acquires Metaweb To Make Search Smarter – I’m almost getting sick of noting every time Google buys a company I really like.

This one worries me a bit, as a lot of their work involves open data, and I hope that isn’t impeded. Metaweb’s Freebase was essentially started as a response to Google Base being a closed system. I guess we’ll see.

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