Street and highway design suffers from bad design choices made decades ago before traffic flows were well understood. Jeff Speck's book Walkable City (recommended) details urban design and points to simple ways to create more efficient and safer traffic flows. He has a piece in The Atlantic on one of the recommendations - reducing street widths from 12 to 10 feet ...
Why do they do this? Because they believe that wider lanes are safer. And in this belief, they are dead wrong. Or, to be more accurate, they are wrong, and thousands of Americans are dead.
They are wrong because of a fundamental error that underlies the practice of traffic engineering—and many other disciplines—an outright refusal to acknowledge that human behavior is impacted by its environment. This error applies to traffic planning, as state DOTs widen highways to reduce congestion, in compete ignorance of all the data proving that new lanes will be clogged by the new drivers that they invite. And it applies to safety planning, as traffic engineers, designing for the drunk who's texting at midnight, widen our city streets so that the things that drivers might hit are further away.
The logic is simple enough, and makes reasonable sense when applied to the design of high-speed roads. Think about your behavior when you enter a highway. If you are like me, you take note of the posted speed limit, set your cruise control for 5 m.p.h. above that limit, and you're good to go. We do this because we know that we will encounter a consistent environment free of impediments to high-speed travel. Traffic engineers know that we will behave this way, and that is why they design highways for speeds well above their posted speed limits.
Unfortunately, trained to expect this sort of behavior, highway engineers apply the same logic to the design of city streets, where people behave in an entirely different way. On city streets, most drivers ignore posted speed limits, and instead drive the speed at which they feel safe. That speed is set by the cues provided by the environment. Are there other cars near me? Is an intersection approaching? Can I see around that corner? Are there trees and buildings near the road? Are there people walking or biking nearby? And: How wide is my lane?
From allowing young people to socialize without the chaperoning of clergymen and other merchants of morality to finally liberating women from the constraints of corsets and giant skirts (the “rational dress” pioneered by bike-riding women cut the weight of their undergarments to a “mere” 7 pounds), the velocipede made possible previously unthinkable actions and interactions that we now for granted to the point of forgetting the turbulence they once incited.
History, Winston Churchill famously said, is written by the victors. Don McLeroy no doubt agrees.
McLeroy is a dentist from Bryan, Texas, a self-described Christian fundamentalist, and an outgoing member of state school board of education (SBOE). Over the past year, McLeroy and his allies formed a powerful bloc on the 15-member elected board and pushed through controversial revisions to the statewide social studies curriculum.
“Sometimes it boggles my mind the kind of power we have,” McLeroy recently boasted.
To many Texans, however, what’s more mind-boggling are some of the revisions. Critics charge that they promote Christian fundamentalism, boost conservative political figures, and force-feed American “exceptionalism,” while downplaying the historical contributions of minorities.
Ms. Mouly started Toon Books, which publishes comics for children as young as 3, in 2008. Its books are listed on several prominent recommended reading lists (including the American Library Association’s) and are included in state and national school programs and initiatives, which is where the teachers who take them into the classrooms often hear about them in the first place. The books are taught across the country, with the help of 200-page illustrated lesson plans that cover topics from literary interpretation and story arcs to “comics as a genre.” Their use in classrooms made immediate sense, given their similarities to the picture books that children that age were already reading in school.
With Toon Graphics, Ms. Mouly said she hoped to extend this learning process to older children. Though the books also have accompanying lesson plans and follow national Common Core standards, the battle for acceptance, Ms. Mouly admits, may be uphill. Plenty of fourth and fifth graders love comics, of course, but that’s also the time when many teachers and parents are trying to wean children off them.
“To develop as readers, kids need a lot of experience processing words,” said Timothy Shanahan, distinguished professor emeritus of urban education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “If a youngster spends an hour reading a comic and an hour reading a book, they’re probably processing a lot more words when they’re reading a book. It’s not that comics are bad, it’s what they might replace.”
With so many different forms of media competing for the attention of children, however, teachers and librarians are increasingly eager to embrace comics in the schools.
Moleskine has a notebook made to use a Livescribe 3 pen that will link to your tablet. The idea isn't new, but Moleskine has a reputation for very nice, if somewhat spendy, notebooks. The pens are about $150, so this isn't an inexpensive approach.
pathos /ˈpāˌTHäs/, n. 1. The quality or character of those emotions, traits, or experiences which are personal, and therefore restricted and evanescent; transitory and idiosyncratic dispositions or feelings as distinguished from those which are universal and deep-seated in character; — opposed to ethos.
It continued. 2. That quality or property of anything which touches the feelings or excites emotions and passions, esp., that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality; as, the pathos of a picture, of a poem, or of a cry.
Dear god! How did I not know about this dictionary? How could you even callyourself a dictionary if all you give for “pathos” is “a quality that evokes pity or sadness”? Webster’s definition is so much fuller, so much closer to felt experience.
Notice, too, how much less certain the Webster definition seems about itself, even though it’s more complete — as if to remind you that the word came first, that the word isn’t defined by its definition here, in this humble dictionary, that definitions grasp, tentatively, at words, but that what words really are is this haze and halo of associations and evocations, a little networked cloud of uses and contexts.
What I mean is that with its blunt authority the New Oxford definition of “pathos” — “a quality that evokes pity or sadness” — shuts down the conversation, it shuts down your thinking about the word, while the Webster’s version gets your wheels turning: it seems so much more provisional — “that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality; as, the pathos of a picture, of a poem, or of a cry” — and therefore alive.
Most important, it describes a word worth using: a mere six letters that have come to stand for something huge, for a complex meta-emotion with mythic roots. Such is the power of actual English.
The pleasure of finding things out
I could go on forever listing examples. I could say, “Look up example, magic,sport. Look up arduous, huge, chauvinistic, venal, pell-mell, raiment, sue, smarting,stereotype. Look up the word word, and look, and up. Look up every word you used today.” Indeed that’s what motivated this post: I’d been using Webster’s dictionary for about a year; I kept looking words up, first there, then in whatever modern dictionary was closest to hand, and seeing this awful difference, evidence of a crime that kept piling up in my mind, the guilt building: so many people were getting this wrong impression about words, every day, so many times a day.