thunder cracks, clouds shatter

Scamper of talons
Spasmodically searching
Head, eyes darting
Scurrying, hustling
To the popcorn
Offered magnanimously
By bench boy
Who wields this power of god
Controls his subjects
They dance for him
More come, involuntarily
The footpath clogs
With feathered activity
A foul sight to see
I must pass
Despite the park sign
I step on the grassRead More »

migrantische communities in st. georg, hamburg

Gegenseitige Ökonomie: Die Centrum-Moschee mit den auffälligen Minaretten befindet sich neben Lindenbazar, dem wahrscheinlich größten türkischen Supermarkt in Hamburg. (Foto:

Lezte Woche habe ich an einem besonderen Stadtrundgang teilgenommen. Das Thema war migrantische Communties in Sankt Georg, einer der vielfältigsten Stadtteilen in Hamburg.

Es hat viel Spaß gemacht. Was ich gelernt habe:Read More »

dense all right – and i don’t mean the living

I know, I know: reading any Canadian paper is just asking to be riled up. Where the heck has journalism gone and died? Both our national papers (National Post and The Globe and Mail) appear to be in a race to the bottom of quality reporting. Globe is winning slightly, but only because NP posts giant photos for every article (I like photos).

But where else to get my daily dose of Canadian news? is perhaps more neutral, but does just as little digging, this recent piece of investigative journalism notwithstanding. is quite enjoyable but politically slanted (in my direction, but slanted all the same) and not a daily feed. The Star’s online layout is an assault on the eyes and only good for Toronto news.

The latest piece of offending material comes from National Post: How do you add affordable housing in Vancouver? Build them in the middle of the street (loathe as I am to direct traffic to this tripe). Since when did news stories turn into biased commentaries of the following kind:

What’s the city to do? Cram even more people in. Shoehorn the middle class into tighter spaces. Tear up city streets and alleyways and build homes there. And force developers — somehow — to sell new homes for prices far below market value.

Affordable housing is among the biggest of Vancouver’s headaches. The city has a physical limit on space, and no foreseeable legal limit on how many people move in. But dense living is anything but a bad thing. Canadians and USians need to wake up. A large chunk of the idea and realisation of the northern two-thirds of North America stems from the pre(/mis)conception that ZOMG WE HAVE LIKE SO MUCH LAND, but at some point we as a society need to shift our paradigm and realise that the days of expanding west into hitherto uncolonised land are long gone.

cabins. in all the woods.

Browsing Cabin Porn (a photo collection of beautiful cabins) always makes me want to build my own. Living in a cabin is, after all, part of my ‘apple tree‘, which is also supposed to be an ecologically conscionable life. But how sustainable, really, is rural living?

Cities are often accused for being gargantuan consumers of natural resources, devouring energy and wasting food and water literally like there’s no tomorrow. Sometimes these accusations are correct, but too often we forget that cities have the potential to be the most efficient living arrangement possible. This is due solely to economies of scale: where people are packed inside a smaller space resources need flow to only one destination. Public transit and electricity grids service a smaller land area. A greater volume of waste and waste water outputs are collected and treated in the same facility. The efficiency gains of a densely populated, compact city can be enormous.

How efficient is it to live in a cabin in the wilderness?

One NYT blog post reader comments: “One good way to judge the morality or sustainability of a proposed course of action is to ask: “What if everybody did what I propose to do?” At least gives an interesting perspective.”

Another has a similar perspective: “Think of green living like this. What if everybody did or will do it? That is – scattered living whether in the woods or corn field exurban sprawl is bad for the environment, especially when there are 7 billion people on the planet and growing. We all can’t live in the woods – if we did – there wood be no woods.”

These two comments made quite an impact on me. It opened up the debate of rural living to considerations that it is less, not more, sustainable than urban living. That, of course, saddened me. The dream of living on (and off) the land has, I think, established itself deeply in the psyche of Western industrialised nations, where some of us yearn for the romance of simplicity.

But there is no romance in treading heavily on this earth, only guilt. Damn the categorical imperative.

your tax dollars at work

What if the individual taxpayer could choose how she wants to allocate her taxes?

To prevent everyone funding the same thing, there could be some kind of cap on every possible project. Once the cap on her 1st preference is reached, the individual taxpayer’s remaining taxes go to her 2nd preference. Once the cap on the 2nd project is reached, the remaining taxes go to the 3rd preference, and so on.

Potential for giant imbalances? Absolutely. Say rich people pay most of the taxes. Rich people use private vehicles more than average. So they may not want to pay for buses. Instead, they want to pay for parking. Well, then keep the cap on parking very low.

I’m not saying whether it’s a good or bad idea – it popped into my head literally five minutes ago – but it is pretty wicked.

Has anyone written on this yet?! SOMEONE TAKE IT AND MODEL IT. If I didn’t already have a thesis topic this would be my baby. IT CAN BE YOURS. Unless, of course, this model already exists in a paper somewhere…