Legible cities, illegible cities

Cities visualized on polar histograms, a project by Geoff Boeing, inspired in part by Kevin Lynch's The Image of the CIty:

"60 years ago, Kevin Lynch defined “legible” cities as those whose patterns lend themselves to coherent, organized, recognizable, and comprehensible mental images. These help us organize city space into cognitive maps for wayfinding and a sense of place. But what Boston lacks in legible circulation patterns, it makes up for in other Lynchian elements (paths, edges, districts, nodes, landmarks) that help make it an “imageable” city for locals and visitors."

Links for December 31st, 2017

The issue of "making a case for the humanities." — "Instead I wish to address the other question: the reason for studying them in the first place. That question has assumed a paramount importance in the current academic context—in which university officials, deans, provosts, and presidents all are far more likely to know how to construct an HBS case study than to parse a Greek verb, more familiar with flowcharts than syllogisms, more conversant in management speak than the riches of the English language. Hence, the oft-repeated call 'to make the case for the humanities.'"

Donald Davidson's "Swampman" thought experiment.

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty." Did Burnham really say it?

A modern retelling of the Truth of Silenus, from a University of Cape Town professor.

NPR's Rational Conversation series on Leon Bridges: Neo-soul innovation or "hollow" expression of anodyne nostalgia?

Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson in conversation on religion, mythology, ethics, and epistemology.

E.B. White's poetics of New York

"A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive. At the feet of the tallest and plushiest offices lie the crummiest slums. The genteel mysteries housed in the Riverside Church are only a few blocks from the voodoo charms of Harlem. The merchant princes, riding to Wall Street in their limousines down the East River Drive, pass within a few hundred yards of the gypsy kings; but the princes do not know they are passing kings, and the kings are not up yet anyway -- they live a more leisurely life than princes and get drunk more consistently. "New York is nothing like Paris; it is nothing like London; and it is not Spokane multiplied by sixty, or Detroit multiplied by four. It is by all odds the loftiest of cities. It even managed to reach the highest point in the sky at the lowest moment of the depression. The Empire State Building shot twelve hundred and fifty feet into the air when it was madness to put out as much as six inches of new growth. (The building has a mooring mast that no dirigible has ever tied to; it employs a man to flush toilets in slack times; it has been hit by an airplane in a fog, struck countless times by lightning, and been jumped off of by so many unhappy people that pedestrians instinctively quicken step when passing Fifth Avenue and 34th Street.)"