You can go into buildings on Google Street View?

I was looking up street names in London to update this page on funny British place names, and as I was playing on Street View, I found myself inside a London pub. Pop into this pub yourself, if you’d like.

Nordic Bar in Google Street View

No one was there to give me a drink, so I left.

Nordic Bar Exit

Nordic Exit 2

Apparently this is a feature that has been around awhile, because people were writing about it in 2011. I missed that story.

Here’s how you can find buildings that you can enter – while you’re in street view, pick up the little yellow guy on the map, and you’ll see orange circles appear. Those are the stores you can enter.

Finding Buildings You Can Enter

That makes me a little bit nervous, given my previous interaction with Google Street View. Hey, what are you doing with that camera?

You’ll have to pardon me, I’m going to spend the morning popping in and out of shops in London. This was the place I was looking for when I stumbled into a bar…

Percy's Passage, London
Percy’s Passage, London
Continue ReadingYou can go into buildings on Google Street View?

Wikipedia Is Quietly Moving Women Off Their American Novelist Page

From Jezebel: Wikipedia Is Quietly Moving Women Off Their American Novelist Page

If you go to Wikipedia’s page for American Novelists, you might notice something strange: Of the first 100 authors listed, only a small handful of them are women. You could potentially blame this on the fact that there simply are more famous male authors than there are female (a-whole-nother can of worms), but the real reasoning is much more intentional. Wikipedia editors have slowly been moving female authors to a subcategory called American Women Novelists so that the original list isn’t at risk of “becoming too large.” Bad luck, ladies. They need to make room and someone has to go first. Why shouldn’t it be unimportant literary folk like Harper Lee, Harriet Beecher Stowe or Louisa May Alcott?

Novelist Amanda Filipacchi was the one who — very recently — first cottoned on to what Wikipedia was doing. The edits, she noticed, have been happening gradually and mostly alphabetically by last name though in a few special cases the editors jumped ahead because they just couldn’t wait for R and T to get Ayn Rand and Donna Tartt off the list. Filipacchi herself was one of the authors to get booted to the subcategory.

More reporting on this:

Wikipedia’s Sexism Toward Female Novelists [New York Times]

“American women novelists” segregated by Wikipedia [Salon]

Continue ReadingWikipedia Is Quietly Moving Women Off Their American Novelist Page

Cat Tower Brainstorming

Some ideas I have for a project I’d like to do – a cat tower piece of furniture for the cats to have someplace to sit. The first was an idea I got from a cartoon.

Cat Bed Idea
A picture I took from a television cartoon years ago.

The other idea I’ve been knocking around is a combo clock/cat bed tower.

waveland clock tower

Not sure whether to combine these into one idea – a pagoda/clock tower? Or to do one or the other. I have some rough ideas about starting this, but nothing fully formed.

Continue ReadingCat Tower Brainstorming

Androgyny: The Bem Sex-Role Inventory Test

Androgyny, Bitches

Courtesy Wikipedia:

The Bem Sex-Role Inventory was created by Sandra Bem in an effort to measure androgyny. It was published in 1974. Stereotypical masculine and feminine traits were found by surveying 100 Stanford undergraduate students on which traits they found to be socially desirable for each sex. The original list of 200 traits was narrowed down to the 40 masculine and feminine traits that appear on the present test. Normative data was found from a 1973 sample for 444 males and 279 females and a 1978 sample of 340 females and 476 males all also from Stanford University undergraduates.

My score on the Gender Traits Test: -6

Masculine: -20 and under
Nearly Masculine: -19 to -10
Androgynous: -9 to +9
Nearly feminine: +9 to +19
Feminine: +20 and over

Continue ReadingAndrogyny: The Bem Sex-Role Inventory Test

Death of a Revolutionary: Shulamith Firestone

Susan Faludi in The New Yorker writes about the death of radical feminist Shulamith Firestone and what it means in the context of contemporary feminism.

In the late nineteen-sixties, Firestone and a small cadre of her “sisters” were at the radical edge of a movement that profoundly changed American society. At the time, women held almost no major elected positions, nearly every prestigious profession was a male preserve, homemaking was women’s highest calling, abortion was virtually illegal, and rape was a stigma to be borne in silence. Feminism had been in the doldrums ever since the first wave of the American women’s movement won the vote, in 1920, and lost the struggle for greater emancipation. Feminist energy was first co-opted by Jazz Age consumerism, then buried in decades of economic depression and war, until the dissatisfactions of postwar women, famously described by Betty Friedan in “The Feminine Mystique” (1963), gave rise to a “second wave” of feminism. The radical feminists emerged alongside a more moderate women’s movement, forged by such groups as the National Organization for Women, founded in 1966 by Friedan, Aileen Hernandez, and others, and championed by such publications as Ms., founded in 1972 by Gloria Steinem and Letty Cottin Pogrebin. That movement sought, as now’s statement of purpose put it, “to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society,” largely by means of equal pay and equal representation. The radical feminists, by contrast, wanted to reconceive public life and private life entirely.

Few were as radical, or as audacious, as Shulamith Firestone. Just over five feet tall, with a mane of black hair down to her waist, and piercing dark eyes behind Yoko Ono glasses, Firestone was referred to within the movement as “the firebrand” and “the fireball.” “She was aflame, incandescent,” Ann Snitow, the director of the gender-studies program at the New School and a member of the early radical cadre, told me. “It was thrilling to be in her company.”

A very long article with lots of great background on the feminist movement. I’m nsure I would not be happy living in the complete upend of society that Shulamith Firestone envisioned, but looking at her background and how she arrived at the radical notions she did – I can see, given the open sexism they were fighting against even on the supposedly progressive left, how she arrived in that place. I wonder if I would have had a similar trajectory if I had been her age in that time period.

This bit… “That intensity emerged in Firestone early, and it was a source of antagonism within her family. She was the second child and the oldest daughter of six children—three girls and three boys…” emphasis mine. Interesting.

Continue ReadingDeath of a Revolutionary: Shulamith Firestone

Infill Before Density: Some Ideas for Indy Velocity

Erika Smith from the Indy Star fills us in on a new plan for development in downtown Indianapolis that includes improving residential as well as retail and business development. Here’s some basics about the plan:

This is the thinking behind a new strategic plan called Velocity.

Led by IDI, this year-long process — with the help of dozens of community, political and business leaders — will come up with a five-year vision for Downtown Indianapolis. Under consideration are ways to drive economic development, make better use of public spaces and parks, improve transportation (yes, including transit), increase housing options, and add more arts and cultural attractions. A public launch is set for Tuesday.

But this isn’t planning for your father’s Downtown Indianapolis.

We’re talking Raymond Street to the south, 30th Street on the north, Tibbs Avenue to the west and Keystone Avenue/Rural Street to the east. That box includes a lot of up-and-coming neighborhoods that have benefited from Downtown’s growth, but it also includes a lot of neighborhoods that missed the rising tide that was supposed to lift all boats.

You can take a survey to give your opinions about what will improve downtown – your answers will help shape the advisory groups vision of what Indianapolis can be.

One of the things I emphasized in the comments of the survey is that we should concentrate on infill before density. There are hundreds of empty lots in downtown and “downtown adjacent” neighborhoods where homes have been bulldozed over the last 30 years. We have a lot of empty spaces to fill in – but rather than doing that completely with condos, townhomes and multi-story apartment buildings, consider strategically filling them in many of them with single-family residences. And where you are filling in with more dense residential construction – give apartments some breathing room. Make them three-bedroom rather than two. Make them two bedroom rather than one. Make them appealing to families with kids and dogs, not just single professionals. In short, concentrate on filling in the vast wasteland of empty lots up and down College Avenue with residences before building yet another downtown condo.

Old Northside Neighborhood

I agree that urban sprawl is bad. I know that density is considered ideal in urban planning. But we have a lot of empty slate to work with here. We can be careful about how much density we’re adding, because Indianapolis is attractive to it’s current residents for a reason. Stephanie and I considered living in Chicago, New York and Toronto when we were deciding where to live; we didn’t just land in Indianapolis by accident, or because we grew up here. The reason we picked Indianapolis over those other cities is because we’re able to afford to have a private library in our own home, and keep a dog and a vegetable garden in the yard, even living downtown. It’s not that I love driving – I’d rather take a bus (or better yet, a streetcar! Lets bring those back) to my workplace. But Chicago and New York seem frenetic and stressful, like there are people living in your lap all the time. We can come up with a happy medium between our current sprawl and the density of a large city, and better public transit can get us from place to place.

We’re not Chicago, and we don’t need to be. In fact it’s better off if that isn’t our goal; if we take advantage of opportunities we have that Chicago does not. Indianapolis has a distinct advantage in doing this sort of city planning over larger cities; we don’t have to make the same mistakes they did. We don’t have to force people to live in 300-square foot boxes because we’re retrofitting blocks and blocks of 200-year-old buildings. We don’t have to screw up by making the Robert Moses mistake of displacing urban neighborhoods and local businesses. We don’t have to become unfriendly to families with kids who need space to raise them. We also have the advantage of having a built-in target market for new residents – the people just north of us – the folks who grew up in Carmel and Noblesville because their parents moved out of Indianapolis in previous decades. This generation of young Hamilton County adults is more culturally aware than the people of their parent’s generation who fled the city for the suburbs. They’ll see the advantages of living closer to their workplace and shortening their commute while broadening their cultural exposure and awareness. But they grew up with a backyard and a dog and room and bedrooms for kids, and they may still want that.

I’m sort of curious whatever became of the Ball State plan for Urban Design Indianapolis that was in the works back in 2007 and 2008. I linked to that project several years ago, and when I went back to reference the guidelines they came up with here, the link to the website where the plan resided is broken. I was wondering how much that plan might inform the current one. After a considerable amount of searching, I wasn’t able to come up with a link to the plan that worked.

Continue ReadingInfill Before Density: Some Ideas for Indy Velocity

How Movies Teach Manhood: Colin Stokes

More about this TED Talk:

When Colin Stokes’ 3-year-old son caught a glimpse of Star Wars, he was instantly obsessed. But what messages did he absorb from the sci-fi classic? Stokes asks for more movies that send positive messages to boys: that cooperation is heroic, and respecting women is as manly as defeating the villain.

Why you should listen to him:
Colin Stokes divides his time between parenting and building the brand of Citizen Schools, a non-profit that reimagines the school day for middle school students in low-income communities in eight states. As Managing Director of Brand & Communications, Colin helps people within the organization find the ideas, words and stories that will connect with more and more people. He believes that understanding the human mind is a force that can be used for good and seeks to take advantage of our innate and learned tendencies to bring out the best in each other and our culture.

Before starting a family, Colin was an actor and graphic designer in New York City. He starred in the long-running off-Broadway musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, as well is in several musicals and Shakespeare stagings. But he jokes that he seems to have achieved more renown (and considerably more revenue) for his brief appearances on two Law & Order episodes.

Continue ReadingHow Movies Teach Manhood: Colin Stokes

How I want to look at online media during terrible events

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I think the latest Ask Amy video covers a some of my thoughts about how we view stuff online, and how to find better images to fill our minds and brains with. It’s hard not to seek out news stories when something happens, but it also felt wrong to me at the same time. I’m aware that a lot of the media coverage of the Boston bombing was probably very distorted – the facts on the ground weren’t known completely, and people tweeting and video posting events from their point of view can be a window into events or a fun-house mirror that tells us more about ourselves than it does about what’s actually happening. If people need information on how to grow their online media, they can visit here and get help.

I think stepping back from the flood of information online – especially when I don’t know the veracity or relevance of it – is a good idea. I think a lot of my fascination with and time spent on the events in Boston was in observing how social media was spreading information around (that has gained 1k views recently), which is an interesting inquiry, but I’m not exactly a viral expert (it’s not my job to watch these patterns of information), so it’s an exercise in navel-gazing that isn’t exactly productive or enriching to my psyche.

In contrast, though, I’ve started to see the “I don’t want to know who he is or why he did what he did” meme going around facebook already. I’m uncomfortable with that reaction. I agree that we don’t want to glorify people who do terrible things with a spot in history, but I also hate the idea that we just accept that things happen without assigning blame on the responsible parties. If we listen to the guy’s manifesto, we can counter it with messages about why he’s wrong, which I think is important.

Because I don’t believe we have to just accept that “bad things happen,” or that we can’t create change because we clearly can. I think holding people accountable is important, and proving that they are wrong in their wrong beliefs advances us culturally to be more civilized and to have opportunities for more rewarding lives. If you had told me 15 years ago that our country would accept and allow gay marriage in our lifetime, cynical me would not have believed it for a second. But change is coming on that front, and it a good way. We can change the way the world thinks, the way they believe. It may be a long and arduous process, but we have done it countless times in the past, and we can do it again.

Continue ReadingHow I want to look at online media during terrible events

John Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ – a book review

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

It isn’t good manners to talk about the book before book club; in fact that is the first and second rules of book club. But I am a few pages away from the end of this book, and it’s not exactly a book that sits around waiting to be discussed, so the book club will probably forgive me, especially because I actually managed to finish a book for once instead of getting bored part way through and going off to look at comics instead. My ADD has gotten much worse over the last few years. My brain is shallow; I cannot help it.

So there are a number of things that you need to know about this book, and I’ll actually number them for you, just for entertainment, although none of these items actually takes priority over any other. Numbering shit is just fun.

  1. The Fault in Our Stars is a really great book. (I never ever bury my lede.)
  2. It is a novel about a 16-year-old young woman named Hazel, who is dying of cancer, so yeah, you’re probably going to cry. You should read it anyway. Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything by telling you about the cancer; you learn that on the first page.
  3. The book is set in Indianapolis, so if you live here, you should especially read it, because it’s very cool to actually read a really good book that’s set in Indianapolis, with places you’ve been to popping up all over the text like delicious little surprise bonbons. I imagine this is how New Yorkers feel every time they read about their precious city: “Oh, yes, I’ve stood on that corner/eaten at that pizzeria, how droll.” Well I’ve been to that Speedway on 86th and Ditch, and I can say… it’s a gas station. But it’s OUR gas station. Wait, this is a better one: I’ve been to that Funky Bones sculpture in the 100 Acres behind the IMA, and watched kids playing on it, so I know exactly what the characters saw and felt at that particular moment, so I have better idea that any dumb New Yorker what it’s supposed to mean. I’m inappropriately chuffed that I understand one thing that New Yorkers don’t.
  4. This is not a depressing book. Well it is in parts, but it’s also intelligent, and moving, and uplifting, and cathartic and ultimately not depressing at all. More than likely you will finish this book and be glad that you read it, and also feel very alive, which you have been reminded of because several of the characters in it are not. Unless you are actually dying of cancer, in which case, I am a huge asshole and should check my privilege. Yikes. Now do I delete this list item or not? Aw, fuck it.
  5. Although you will recognize lots of the settings by name, the author inexplicably changed the name of the hospitals that appear in the book, which made me wonder throughout. You will still recognize them, though, especially if you, like I, have an unwanted familiarity with any of them. That only adds to the verisimilitude. That is both good and bad.
  6. The author, John Green, is a resident of Indianapolis, and you have probably met him at one time or another, possibly without realizing it. He’s probably that guy you/I flipped off in traffic, or cut off to get in the grocery store line. Or was introduced to, and promptly forgot his name. (For me, most likely that one.) Unlike Vonnegut or James Whitcomb Riley, or George Ade, or Meredith Nicholson, he’s actually around here somewhere. I know it’s an assumption that we may, you and I, have met him, but it’s not that big of a stretch. Indianapolis is a city, but it ain’t that big.
  7. I have not (yet) read his other works, but just based on this one, John Green is a huge literary asset to our city, on par with any of the dead literary figures I listed in the bullet point above. And he has the advantage over those dudes of being accessible to you and I – not in the sense that we could run into him on the street (although we probably have) but in the sense that he’s writing in a contemporary Indianapolis that we see every day, and not an historical city that doesn’t have the same sensibility that Indianapolis did back when true literary figures last walked the streets here. Aside from the characters residing in a city we recognize, they also reside in a time period we recognize, with pop culture and technology we recognize, and when they look in the mirror we see our faces reflected back. John Green is a voice of Indianapolis in the modern day, and his writing reminds us we are also intelligent, and moving, and uplifting, and cathartic, and that we have the power to move people with our words.
  8. I once had a conversation with my friend Rachel about whether there could be another major literary figure in Indianapolis along the lines of Riley, writing works that were set in Indianapolis in a way that could be transformative, and she disagreed with my assertion that there could – she felt that there was nothing going on in the city culturally that would lead to Indianapolis being represented in that way. When I tried to suggest that a well-written literary work could spark a cultural change like that, she got irritated with me, and snapped “It’s not a tautology!” and ended the conversation. And went I back to my desk and looked up the word tautology. I knew what it meant, I swear, I was just refreshing my memory. Anyways, Rachel – this book proves you wrong.
  9. Another thing about this John Green fellow, is that he is a huge asshole. I’m basing this not on having met the man, as I’ve already said I haven’t, or on anything specific that he’s written. I’m basing that assertion on the fact that he’s setting the curve. He’s raising the bar, and I don’t like it at all. He’s like my older brother who always got As and as soon the teachers met me, they were like “oh, yay, another Mineart” and then when I daydreamed my way through class, all my report cards said stuff like “not living up to her potential” and “she never pays attention; disappointing.” It was one thing to live in a city where all the good authors were dead ones, and their writing was mostly too boring to read (except Vonnegut, he was cool). I liked it that way. I could write whatever shit I wanted – I could write ridiculous things about sex in a way that I hoped would make people laugh and not worry about whether what I’m writing matters, because it’s only Indianapolis; it’s not like we’re striving to achieve here. Hell, our city motto is “no mean city” which is basically just a way of say “the city doesn’t suck too much.” (Can I point out this phrase, originating in the bible, is usually recognized as a reference to another city altogether? That’s the kind of thing we could expect from Indy, before John Green.) I was happy; I was writing something that I could self-publish under a pen name and push out there without worrying. Now there’s a fucking curve. So thanks, John Green, for writing a really good piece of fiction. You huge jerk.
Continue ReadingJohn Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ – a book review