Budget tips

Bikes in Los Angeles' Griffith Park cost only $1 for an hour of use, compared for example to the walk-up fee for the Metro or Santa Monica bike-share systems, which each charge about $7 to use a bike for an hour.

Rental bikes now available in Griffith Park — and they're a steal by Meghan McCarty Carino (KPCC)
(photo: John Gabree)

Annual Being Human Festival returns to the UK

This year’s festival is taking place nationally 17 – 25 November 2017. "Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Being Human is a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. The festival highlights the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world." In this its 4th year, Being Human will host over 300 events in 54 towns and cities across the UK, engaging the public with big questions, big debates and innovative activities focused around the theme of "hope and fear."


Does this headset come with Dramamine?

Self-driving shuttles? Drinks that know where you are? VR dining? If this goes much further, you won't need to take a trip at all.

The future of ocean cruises will require even less effort from you.: Royal Caribbean's high-tech ship lets you be lazier than ever by Roger Cheng (CNet)

Smell that fresh sea air? Maybe not.

"Thinking of going on a cruise for the fresh ocean air? Think again. A recent undercover investigation on P&O Cruises' ship Oceana revealed ultra-fine particles in the air emitted from burning fuel. On deck, downwind of the smokestacks, the investigative team measured 84,000 particulates per cubic cm. Closer to the smokestacks, the numbers rocketed to 144,000. Sometimes even peaking at 226,000. According to Dr. Matthew Loxham, a research fellow in respiratory biology and air pollution toxicology in University of Southampton, 'These are levels that you would expect to see in the most polluted cities.'"

An undercover investigation reveals air quality on a cruise ship deck could be worse than the world’s most polluted cities by Nathaniel Lee (Business Insider)

Make a "city symphony" of your own.

DIY: Soundcities is an open online database of thousands of urban sounds from around the world. On the site, you can visit various cities and create soundmaps of your own. Cool.

Looney Tunes on Southwest

The internets want to be free

We have long-complained about the ridiculous fees charged by hoteliers, especially at the high-end, for wifi access. But with wireless now so ubiquitous that you can get on line everywhere from your carwash to your to haberdasher, getting hotel customers — many of whom already are paying a few hundred bucks a night — to shell out to log on has become a losing battle for hotels. More are throwing in the towel and making in-room Wi-Fi free for all guests, or at least those who sign up for the hotels’ free loyalty programs. So check out wifi availability before you check in.

Cheaper flights to Europe, at least for now

"Nane were keener against it than the Glasgow folk, wi' their rabblings and their risings, and their mobs, as they ca' them now-a-days. But it's an ill wind blaws naebody gude." -- Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott

The rest of the story: Airfare to Britain Plummets to Lowest Level in Three Years by Patrick Surry (Hopper).

Visiting The Doors' Venice

Ray Manzarek gives a tour of Venice and Santa Monica, talking about the early days of the Doors. This was made for his 2003 film, "Love Her Madly."

People on the Mexican-American Border

On the Border is a New Yorker-ish report on a 2,000-mile long, 20-mile wide strip of territory stretching between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Coast, that has its own laws, its own culture and its own people. It is the people, especially, that come alive in Tom Miller's wry, sensitive profiles.

The frontier between the United States and Mexico has a contrived quality to it, as if it were erected in response more to xenophobia than to genuine political or economic problems. The society on one side is much like that on the other. Indeed, the wall, barbed-wire and chain-link fences slice not only through empty countryside and crowded metropolitan neighborhoods, but also through families, dividing breadwinners from their dependents, parents from their children. For the people on its banks, the Rio Grande is a river of tears.

Miller, who made the trek from east of Brownsville to the shore of Baja, knows how to tell a story. In one revealing (and often amusing) tale after another, he brings alive the campesinos, politicians, political activists, border police, businessmen, parrot smugglers, Klansmen and whores who make the region as lively and fascinating as any place on the planet. He not only captures the border as it is, but delves into its past, a history not only of wars and treaties, but of cultural landmarks such as Rosa's Cantina, the locale of Marty Robbins' classic country and western hit "El Paso."

"On The Border" humanizes an issue that for decades has been marked more by ignorance and prejudice than compassion and understanding. It is rare for a book to be as informative on an important issue as this one is -- the unending political arguments about immigration that mar every election cycle demonstrate how important -- and still be wonderfully entertaining.

On the Border: Portraits of America's Southwestern Frontier by Tom Miller

Also of interest:
Operation Gatekeeper and Beyond: The War On "Illegals" and the Remaking of the U.S. - Mexico Boundary by Joseph Nevins
Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity by David G. GutiƩrrez

Myanmar: Voices of the Voiceless

MTV's Rebel Music series, produced by activist artist Shepard Fairey, "is an intimate look at the lives of young people in the heart of today's greatest protest movements, who," in places like Venezuela, Senegal, Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Native American communities in North America, "are using the power of music and art to demand positive change." If you haven't yet caught the series, now in its second season on MTV, here's a sample:

"The fearless Myanmar musicians went deep underground to build a thriving punk and hip-hop scene, despite the limits of freedom they faced. Now that the country is beginning to open its borders, see how punk lifer Skum, guitarist/promoter Eaiddhi and Y.A.K., one of Myanmar’s only female hip-hop groups, make music in such uncertain times."

See, also, Shepard Faireys' Obey Giant: Manufacturing Quality Dissent since 1989.

Just because we know where the L-points are doesn't mean we're going to live there any time soon.

Still be a while until the grand opening of Club Med Lagrange.

The High Frontier by Gerard K. O'NeillWhen I first picked up The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space in 1978, I thought the publisher was hyperbolizing, what with cover lines shouting, "They're coming! Space colonies -- hope for your future." But it turned out that the late Gerald K. O'Neill wrote about orbiting townships with all the caution and fastidiousness of a TV pitchman. He sounded, in fact, very much like the evangelicals who preached salvation through nuclear power before Chernobyl and Fukushima. Reading his book, I was reminded of H.G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come. But by the third edition in 2000, a new publisher had turned down the volume; "The High Frontier" was now merely a "classic." After all, despite extraordinary advances in technology, very little that O'Neill envisioned has come to pass.

Not that projections of giant self-supporting cities and resorts dancing round the earth or plopping down on Mars are without appeal. Like much utopian dream-weaving, such schemes are frequently logical (if you accept their premises), humane in their ambitions, and efficient in their design -- but also, too often, quite mad. If you wish to read a brief in favor of space cities, however, The High Frontier has all the virtues of good propaganda: It's passionate (for all its gloss of sweet reasonableness), intelligent (within its assumptions) and unflaggingly optimistic (O'Neill, who was a member of the physics department faculty at Princeton and founder of the Space Studies Institute, believed he had outlined a workable plan that would have us
living in space by 1995; instead, twenty years later all we have is an aging International Space Motel nearly ready for the car crusher).

Should you find yourself swept away by O'Neill 's fervor, you'll discover healthy correctives among the arguments presented in Space Colonies, a collection of essays originally issued about the same time as O'Neill's book. Although editor Stewart Brand (he was founder-editor of the still-relevant Whole Earth Catalog and runs the Long Now Foundation) is something of a space colony partisan himself (he was editor of CoEvolution Quarterly, from which most of the book's material is drawn), it is O'Neill's critics (among them John Holt, George Wald and Wendell Berry) who have the better of the arguments in this book.

They excoriate O'Neill and his supporters for being sanguine about finding solutions in space to political and social problems that have never been amenable to solution on the planet's surface (it's utopian to imagine earthlings won't take their baggage with them), for offering a program that would require a commitment of resources sure to aggravate existing terrestrial difficulties, and for ignoring the fact that control of technology this sophisticated would almost certainly be placed in the hands of the military of the alleged great powers; they
also offer fatal criticisms of the technology that is the crust of O'Neill's pie in the sky.

In the years between then and now, the technology has vastly improved beyond what most of us could imagine. But the planet's resources have been further depleted, climate change looms, and visionary political leadership is suffering it's own great die-off. Approached as science-fiction, space colonies are fun to think on and dream about -- The High Frontier is as exciting a read as it ever was, and six new chapters point out the technological advances made in the 25 years since O'Neill's original manifesto, but science-fact they are not, at least not yet, and one hopes that until we can learn to live together more peaceably, they never will be.

When space tourism becomes viable, Detourist will be first in line to go. In the meantime, my bucket list is long enough without adding the Hyatt Europa.

The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space by Gerald K. O'Neill
Space Colonies, edited by Stewart Brand

For NASA's speculations on orbiting colonies, see Space Settlement Basics at Nasa.gov

Rocket man, I think it's gonna be a long, long time

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