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Car Crashes Aren't Always Unavoidable - The Atlantic
"The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives."

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"Further entrenching automobile supremacy are laws that require landowners who build housing and office space to build housing for cars as well. In large part because of parking quotas, parking lots now cover more than a third of the land area of some U.S. cities; Houston is estimated to have 30 parking spaces for every resident. As the UCLA urban-planning professor Donald Shoup has written, this mismatch flows from legal mandates rather than market demand. Every employee who brings a car to the office essentially doubles the amount of space he takes up at work, and in urban areas his employer may be required by law to build him a $50,000 garage parking space.

For those who didn’t get the message from the sprawling landscape that zoning has created, the tax code sharpened it by lavishing rewards on those who drive and punishing those who don’t. On its own terms, the mortgage-interest tax deduction is neutral as to the type of home financed, but—given the twin constraints of zoning and mortgage lending—the deduction primarily subsidizes large houses in car-centric areas. Those who walk or bike to work receive no commuter tax benefit, while those who drive receive tax-deductible parking. Another provision of the tax code gives car buyers a tax rebate of up to $7,500 when their new vehicles are electric or hybrid; buyers of brand-new Audis, BMWs, and Jaguars can claim the full $7,500 from the American taxpayer. Environmentally, these vehicles offer an improvement over gas-powered cars (but not public or active transit). Even so, 85 to 90 percent of toxic vehicle emissions in traffic come from tire wear and other non-tailpipe sources, which electric and hybrid cars still produce. They also still contribute to traffic, and can still kill or maim the people they hit. Why are we taxing bus riders to pay rich people to buy McMansions and luxury electric SUVs?"

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"
Tort law is supposed to allow victims to recover for harms caused by others. Yet the standard of liability that applies to car crashes—ordinary negligence—establishes low expectations of how safe a driver must be. Courts have held that a higher standard—strict liability, which forces more careful risk taking—does not apply to driving. Strict liability is reserved for activities that are both “ultrahazardous” and “uncommon”; driving, while ultrahazardous, is among the most common activities in American life. In other words, the very fact that car crashes cause so much social damage makes it hard for those who are injured or killed by reckless drivers to receive justice.

In a similar spirit, criminal law has carved out a lesser category uniquely for vehicular manslaughter. Deep down, all of us who drive are afraid of accidentally killing someone and going to jail; this lesser charge was originally envisioned to persuade juries to convict reckless drivers. Yet this accommodation reflects a pattern. Even when a motorist kills someone and is found to have been violating the law while doing so (for example, by running a red light), criminal charges are rarely brought and judges go light. So often do police officers in New York fail to enforce road-safety rules—and illegally park their own vehicles on sidewalks and bike facilities—that specific Twitter accounts are dedicated to each type of misbehavior. Given New York’s lax enforcement record, the Freakonomics podcast described running over pedestrians there as “the perfect crime.”"

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"All of these laws can be reversed directly by the legislative bodies responsible for passing them in the first place. However, a growing body of academic research suggests that, even when most people favor less restrictive zoning, local officials will side with wealthy homeowners who favor the status quo. In these cases, state legislators can be called upon to help. Reformers have succeeded in doing so in Oregon and have shown promise in California. Far less attention has been paid, however, at the federal level. Recently, several Democratic candidates for president have released federal plans to prod states and cities to relax their zoning.

Congress could condition a small share (say, 5 percent) of federal funds on the adoption by states of housing-production goals or Vision Zero design standards calibrated for safety. Conditional appropriations, which are how Congress goaded states into raising the drinking age, are already in use for numerous transportation programs.

Litigation for dangerous street design is another promising way to hold public entities accountable. So far, plaintiffs have mostly sought money damages, but they can also seek design changes through injunctive relief, including by class action. This has the potential to move not only laws and budgets but the entire discourse around street safety.

Finally, reformers could seek recognition of the freedom to walk. The federal Americans With Disabilities Act and state and local counterparts, as well as case law recognizing a constitutional right to movement, suggest such a right to mobility.

Americans customarily describe motor-vehicle crashes as accidents. But the harms that come to so many of our loved ones are the predictable output of a broken system of laws. No struggle for justice in America has been successful without changing the law. The struggle against automobile supremacy is no different."
2019  cars  law  zoning  accidents  insurance  policy  government  taxes  publictransit  pedestrians  parking  cities  urban  urbanism  transportation  transit  speedlimits  california  us  design  safety  health  risks  tortlaw  negligence  oregon  housing  litigation  gregoryshill 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Harvard EdCast: Lifelong Kindergarten | Harvard Graduate School of Education
"The concept of kindergarten — as a place for young children to learn by interacting with materials and people around them — has existed for over 200 years, but never has the approach been so suited to the way the world works as it is today, says Mitchel Resnick, the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab.

“That approach to kindergarten is really aligned with the needs of today’s society," says Resnick, citing the need to adapt to the speed at which things change in the world. "As kids in the traditional kindergarten were playfully designing and creating things, they were developing as creative thinkers…. That’s exactly what we need.”

Being given the room to explore, experiment, and express oneself is vital to becoming a creative thinker — and to the learning process as a whole — says Resnick, author of Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play. If people aren't encouraged in their creativity at an early age, and if this isn't nutured throughout their schooling, then they aren't as prepared to deal with the unexpected when it arises.

“We’re trying to spread that approach to learners of all ages," says Resnick, who also leads the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at MIT. "We want to take what’s worked best in kindergarten and here at the Media Lab and provide opportunities for all kids of all ages to be able to explore and experiment and express themselves in that same spirit.”

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Resnick talks about the importance of nurturing creativity in learning and explains why kindergarten is the greatest invention of the last millennium."

[See also:
"Mitchel Resnick - MIT Media Lab: Lifelong Kindergarten" (2014)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRxD-pe3PN0

"Helping Kids Develop as Creative Thinkers" (2017)
https://vimeo.com/244986026 ]
mitchresnick  lifelongkindergarten  mitmedialab  2017  interviews  kindergarten  play  projects  projectbasedlearning  passion  collaboration  experimentation  creativity  medialab  scratch  making  pbl  teaching  sfsh  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  risks  risktaking  education  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  curiosity  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  mindstorms  writing  coding  programming  leaning  creating  lego  reasoning 
december 2017 by robertogreco
"Stranger Danger" to children vastly overstated - Boing Boing
"Oft-cited stats about child abduction puts kidnappers behind every bush. But the numbers are old and frequently mangled, distorting our understanding of genuine risks to children."



"People send Skenazy their stories and media clippings of law-enforcement overreactions, some of which bubble up to national coverage. (Skenazy writes for the libertarian publication Reason.) She cites an appeals court decision in January 2014 in New Jersey which upheld the conviction of a mother for leaving her 19-month-old child asleep in a car for 5 to 10 minutes while she shopped.

The judge writing for the appeals panel cited a variety of potential risks: "…on a hot day, the temperature inside a motor vehicle can quickly spike to dangerously high levels, just as it may rapidly and precipitously dip on a cold night."

But the day wasn't hot, it wasn't night, and the child was never in danger. The decision left open the potential for any parent to be criminally charged and convicted for leaving a child in a car up to the age of 17, as the appeals court provided no cut-off date nor other parameters. It also thought because the task wasn't urgent, that more imaginary danger should have been considered. "Because she wasn't fantasizing, she was guilty," says Skenazy.

Many states have laws that mandate the age at which a child may be left alone at home or in a car (and the duration, among other factors), or provide such broad guidance that even if it's within the law, a child could be put in foster care and a parent arrested.

In Texas, leaving a child under seven without someone 14 or over in a car for over five minutes, is a Class C misdemeanor ($500 fine, no jail time). Texas has no rules about the age at which a kid can be left at home alone, but its definition of "neglectful supervision" includes not just "bodily injury" but "substantial risk of immediate harm to the child." This leaves an awful lot of latitude for enforcement, which we've seen in practice errs towards worst first thinking.

Skenazy says there's secondary effect, too. Parents who might otherwise make sensible choices about their kids' capabilities must also factor in the worst first thinking of neighbors and strangers. "They imagine that the authorities are using that criteria when they are making a decision about your parenting," and that results in calls to protective services and the police for behavior that isn't dangerous or unreasonable.

While the legal side remains tricky, Skenazy says parents' attitudes can be changed. For her TV show, producers received submissions from 2,000 families and picked the most-anxious 13, including a mother who still spoon fed her older child and an 8-year-old only allowed to stand on a skateboard on his front lawn. Another couple accompanied their children next door to the kids' grandparents.

She spent a few afternoons with the kids without their parents, and they bloomed. But even better, "It changes the parents utterly, completely, and forever, once the kids do something on their own. What looked like bone-deep fear, that even I — I wondered why am I here and not a psychiatrist? It's socially imposed." This gives her hope."
strangers  strangerdanger  statistics  2015  children  parenting  fear  lenoreskenazy  caution  overcaution  joelbest  halloween  risks  glennfleishman 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Stop waiting, start making: Lessons in liveability from Jeanne van Heeswijk | Design Indaba
"A lot of your work spans a long period of engagement, often five, six years. What is the value of time in your design process?

I think spending time is a very important design element – to learn about the situation; to learn about the questions. Sometimes you have to hear things ten times just to understand the nuances of the way things are articulated. Quite often, when you enter a community for the first time or do work within a community, the first people you meet are already organised in one way or another. So they are often outspoken and they have a certain way to speak about the situation that is either angry or optimistic, depending whose side they are on. Spending time gives you the opportunity to hear more people’s opinion and different nuances of the same thing.

For example in Anfield, Liverpool, [where a housing renewal scheme meant people’s homes where bought up by the state for redevelopment that never took place] people repeatedly said: “We don’t like what is happening in our area. We don’t like these boarded-up houses. We are angry with the council.” But it was not until someone said that they were “sick of the waiting” that we really came to the crux of the matter. And what we’re talking about here is two things: waiting as an activity and not feeling well about it. In an area where you want to encourage living well, it is interesting to start working with this idea: to stop the waiting and to start making. This might seem like a very simple idea, but it is about the way it is formulated. We could have said: “Ok, you don’t like the boarded-up houses, let’s open up the houses again” but actually I don’t think that would have created the same process in order to stop the waiting.

By creating something collectively, by doing and making, whether it is a building or a loaf of bread, once you start producing again, it moves people from waiting into action. For me it is a very important condition for all my projects: to co-produce change, to co-produce an environment. And for that you need to work together and learn together and you basically just need to spend time. In practical terms that doesn’t mean I necessarily stay around all the time. Sometimes it is good to go back and forth. Often I spend of chunk of time, three to four months at a time, working on a specific project.

You work in communities across the globe. How do you overcome being an outsider?

I don’t believe in the local as a fixed unity. Locality is a mix of what I call local experts. A local expert can be someone who lives there but it can also be someone who works there. For example in the Afrikanerwijk, Rotterdam, the market stallholders, who are only there on market days, are very important for what happens in the area. They come from all over the Netherlands and even outside the Netherlands but they have an expertise because they know what it means to be at that market. This is an important dynamic. Sometimes certain localities have certain emergent issues that need experts to come from outside because they don’t have that specific expertise on location.

What are the ingredients for successful participation?

I think there is no recipe for it. That is the thing. Too often we want to try to package participation into recipes, strategies or deliverables so that we can easily tick the boxes at the end of the day. In my work I set up a situation where we can start producing again. You have to set up camp; set up shop; set up your studio there. Start working on site with people in the conditions that are there.

I think it is vital that all projects should be site-specific, context-specific, people-specific. There is no recipe for that because every situation is really different. Although there are some global trends and the pressure of capitalism drives the need for renewal everywhere, every situation is so specific: of course you have to work with the people who are there. I don’t think you should enter into a process completely blind: I do my research very well, but you have to go in there with the ability and the desire to learn about the situation and not with a preconceived plan or criteria or ideas. You can’t arrive with something and say: “Oh, I already drew something that you might like … ”

If capitalism has made us passive consumers, then how can we become active producers? How do you overcome passivity and bring people to action?

You keep poking them. Sometimes this is the hardest thing for people to do; to step over that boundary, to leave that passive consumerism behind and really start taking part. It is hard because becoming an active participant in producing an environment means taking risks. If you take risks, you make mistakes. People might not like what you produce, so you are continuously confronted with “the other” and confrontation is not something that makes us comfortable. But it is something we need in order to have a relationship with anyone or anything.

We need to confront and negotiate the difference; the different perception of what self and identity is or what we are together or can be together. The future you imagine and my vision might look completely different, yet here we are sitting together on this couch and we have to figure it out.

What is the value of making or producing?

To make is very important. Almost in a Marxist way we need to reclaim the right and means of production. I think at this moment in time we need to claim the right to produce culture; to produce cultural relationships and the cultural sphere. We need to reclaim this right from advertising, mass media and consumerism. I am an old-fashioned believer in the idea that we have to make things ourselves in order to get a grip on reality."

[See also:
http://www.designindaba.com/videos/interviews/jeanne-van-heeswijk-becoming-co-producers-our-own-future
http://www.designindaba.com/videos/conference-talks/jeanne-van-heeswijk-community-development-co-production ]
jeannevanheeswijk  art  making  production  participatory  2013  local  participation  consumerism  marxism  capitalism  identity  self  learning  howwelearn  outsiders  time  progress  urbanrenewal  gentrification  risks  risktaking 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Get-well wishes to Argentina's El Flaco whose football moved the world | Jonathan Wilson | Football | guardian.co.uk
"I maintain that a team is above all an idea," he said, "and more than an idea it is a commitment, and more than a commitment it is the clear convictions that a coach must transmit to his players to defend that idea. So my concern is that we coaches don't arrogate to ourselves the right to remove from the spectacle the synonym of festival, in favour of a philosophical reading that cannot be sustained, which is to avoid taking risks. And in football there are risks because the only way you can avoid taking risks in any game is by not playing … I start from the premise that football is efficacy. I play to win, as much or more than any egoist who thinks he's going to win by other means. I want to win the match. But I don't give in to tactical reasoning as the only way to win, rather I believe that efficacy is not divorced from beauty …"
césarluismenotti  argentina  football  soccer  philosophy  management  elflaco  2011  tactics  history  coaching  efficacy  beauty  risks  risk  via:cityofsound  futbol  sports 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Scaling startups
"People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year."

"Process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity."

"If you follow process religiously, you’ll never get anything done!"

"Hire well: This goes without saying, and I didn’t mention it in the panel. It’s a big topic probably best left for another post. Hiring great people makes everything else below easier.

Communication: Everyone in the company uses IRC, not just engineers. Everyone, all the time, from the CEO on down. Sure, sometimes you can miss things if you’re not in IRC at the time, but the benefits far outweigh the costs, and you have a lot fewer meetings about day-to-day mundane issues. …

Encourage experimentation … External transparency … Embracing failure …"
business  culture  startups  startup  entrepreneurship  scalability  risk  failure  strategy  chaddickerson  transparency  experimentation  tcsnmy  communication  process  purpose  riskassessment  riskaversion  risks  risktaking  hiring  via:stamen  scale 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Lessons from Google Wave and MSFT Kin « Scott Berkun [via: http://berglondon.com/blog/2010/08/13/friday-links/]
"Wave was weird, but cheap. Compared to Kin, which likely involved dozens of people & man-months, Wave was likely done by small team. That was biggest cost! If you’re going to have failures, even visible ones, better cheap & small, than expensive & large…

easy metric of innovation culture is learning—are people at all levels learning, sharing & growing from whatever happens, good or bad. Not lip-service. But actual learning, where people admit mistakes or oversights & what they might have done differently (rather than witch-hunt many big companies confuse w/ learning).

…starts w/ leaders, & leaders on Kin or Wave have much fodder to work w/. Are they going to share what they learned? Progress awaits if they do. But resentment, confusion & high odds for [repeating] will fester if they don’t.

Anywhere people learn from success & failure will outpace places that lack courage to look at failures w/ eyes open & learn from it, as well as places that don’t learn anything at all."
tcsnmy  change  innovation  risks  risktaking  learning  organizations  business  google  googlewave  scale  experience  culture  management  progress  sharing  failure  microsoft  microsoftkin  kin  smallandcheap  leadership  administration  lcproject  cost  unschooling  deschooling  ownership  incentives  motivation  punishment  courage  success 
august 2010 by robertogreco

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