Linklist: March 26, 2012

PiPress: Mall of America plans $200 million expansion:

“that would add a second hotel, more retail space and a medical office tower at the megamall.”

[Because it is not big enough already. Economies of agglomeration]

Strib: $100 million in flour power to transform Pillsbury A-Mill :

“Now, a robust rental market and an ambitious plan from a local developer could mean new life for the site. Dominium Co. plans to convert the complex into 255 rental apartments for low-income artists, including studios and performance spaces. The project will cost more than $100 million, making it one of the most expensive residential construction projects on the books in the Twin Cities.”

[Maybe I misunderstand something, but why are we spending $392,000 per unit for low-income artists. Surely we can spend less to support low-income artists. It’s not like we think low-income artists will pay $392K per unit, or will rent it for $4K per month. That is more expensive than my house. Low-income artists, like low-income non-artists, should be able to rent used housing in regular neighborhoods or industrial areas. I am suspicious that one can create an artists district, rather than having one emerge (as happened in NE Mpls or along University Avenue before the LRT priced the artists out). It’s not like the preservation of the skin of the building somehow enhances the Twin Cities skyline. This is pseudo-presevationism at its worst.]

Reason supports privatizing the post, that is no surprise, but they dug up this “As Lysander Spooner, who challenged the government mail monopoly when he formed the American Letter Mail Company in 1844 noted in his essay, “The Unconstitutionality of the Laws of Congress, Prohibiting Private Mails,”:

Universal experience attests that government establishments cannot keep pace with private enterprize in matters of business (and the transmission of letters is a mere matter of business.) . . . [Private enterprise] is constantly increasing its speed, and simplifying and cheapening its operations. But government functionaries, secure in the enjoyment of warm nests, large salaries, official honors and power, and presidential smiles . . . feel few quickening impulses to labor, and are altogether too independent and dignified personages to move at the speed that commercial interests require. . . . The consequence is, as we now see, that when a cumbrous, clumsy, expensive and dilatory government system is once established, it is nearly impossible to modify or materially improve it. Opening the business to rivalry and free competition, is the only way to get rid of the nuisance.

Lysander Spooner is one of those great Americans about whom you should read the wikipedia article. E.g. he was an ardent abolitionist who supported the right of the South to secede.

HuffPo: Tacocopter Aims To Deliver Tacos Using Unmanned Drone Helicopters:

“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!
It’s an unmanned drone helicopter shooting a taco from space down at you and your colleagues during lunchtime!”

Holian and Kahn: The Impact of Center City Economic and Cultural Vibrancy on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transportation. … “vibrant downtown areas are associated with lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from driving, and with greater public transit use.”

We update Glaeser and Shaprio’s analysis using data from the 2000s. Unfortunately, the results do not bode well for dense cities, and by extension, the environment. While New York City grew by a little more than two percent, the population of Chicago fell by seven percent. We investigate the growth rates in over 1,000 cities in Section 1, and find that although density was not as bad for growth as it was in the 1980s, it was worse for growth than in the 1990s. Our results indicate that dense cities have quite a long way to go before we can say they are “back.”

When including our vibrancy measures, we find that downtowns with more hotels and more restaurants per capita are also associated with less driving.

Our findings with respect to the vibrancy-public transit connection show that places that have an educated downtown population, a low murder growth rate, and a high number of live-music performers are associated with higher public transit use.

Alexis Madrigal @ The Atlantic: Guess What’s the Fastest-Adopted Gadget of the Last 50 Years:

“When we think about the great consumer electronics technologies of our time, the cellular phone probably springs to mind. If we go farther back, perhaps we’d pick the color television or the digital camera. But none of those products were adopted as fast by the American people as the boom box. “

Metafilter: Traffic jams without bottlenecks—experimental evidence for the physical mechanism of the formation of a jam :

“The mathematical theory behind shockwave traffic jams was developed more than 20 years ago using models that show jams appearing from nowhere on roads carrying their maximum capacity of free-flowing traffic – typically triggered by a single driver slowing down. After that first vehicle brakes, the driver behind must also slow, and a shockwave jam of bunching cars appears, traveling backwards through the traffic.”

One thought on “Linklist: March 26, 2012

  1. I think that most Minneapolitans would get behind spending public money on the A Mill. On top of being arguably the structure that best embodies Minneapolis’ milling history, in other words, the Mill City’s history, it is also one of the most recognizable structures in the city. Provincial towns like ours don’t have many beaux arts monuments, so we need to rely on the byproducts of the hubris of industrialists (see Stone Arch Bridge) for civic identity. Whether it’s worth funding this particular project or not is more debatable. It might be a more reasonable approach to wait for the condo market to recover if that will save some public money.


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