Enclosing the Commons

According to the Strib, the City of Minneapolis is trying to keep strangers out of alleys:A back-alley approach to fight crime in Minneapolis. The alleys will essentially become private streets for the residents.
From the article ‘”If you don’t live there on that block there’s no reason to be in the alley,” said Killebrew, who proposed the ordinance to the city attorney.’
Well I can think of reasons, namely taking a walk and looking at the backs of houses, which provides lots of entertainment for law-abiding folks in the summer, doubling the amount of entertainment that can be had from simply looking at the fronts of houses.
I just don’t understand how this is supposed to help. If you have already broken the law (or intend to), the alley ordinance doesn’t seem like much of a disincentive. Neighbors might now report more suspicious activity (where “strangers” in the alley are suspicious), but nosy neighbors are pretty good at that in Minneapolis already.
See enclosure and private road.

The Thick Of It

I have just started watching The Thick of It on BBC Four and BBC America. A weird combination of Yes Minister and The Office, it hilariously captures the rise of public relations over substance in the bureaucracy. It reminded me of the politically hyper-sensitive reign of current Congressional candidateElwyn Tinklenberg as Transportation Commissioner in Minnesota during the Ventura administration.
My favorite quote of course is in Episode One when the then Minister of Home Affairs is being told to resign, and he suggests the Transport Minister resign instead, and the political aide says something like “We can’t fire him. Transport, that’s important stuff, you know, cars, trucks, roads” and the doomed Minister of Home Affairs says “I know what Transport is”.
– dml

Conferences and Laptops

I just attended NetSci 2006 , which was an interesting conference with physicists and social networks people claiming the title “Network Science” (I believe I was the sole representative of physical networks: transportation, electricity, telecommunications, etc.).
What was most remarkable about the conference was the especially large number of audience members who used laptops while someone was speaking, especially if the speaker was not a “name” or an especially experienced. Why bother showing up if you are going to pay more attention to your computer screen than the speaker?
One can understand the next speaker reviewing their powerpoint perhaps, but I think for something like this more communications channels (free wireless) is less, diminishing the effectiveness of the conference by having less common ground among the audience to discuss common issues (i.e. the presentations in the last session).
– dml

by David Levinson

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,634 other followers