I recently read this article about the possible development of Mumbai, both in infastructure and in better housing conditions for those currently living in slums.  Currently there is some resistance tot eh plans, mostly because residents in certain areas fear they would be disadvantaged by any redesign.  And why not?  The history of architecture is full of hundreds of examples of idealistic central city building projects that didn’t pan out.  At the forefront of my mind is Pruitt-Igoe, which was a ‘landmark’ in my architectural undergrad career.

Most successful projects are those that are employed over a small scale, that provoke real human interaction, or are used for only a limited time.   The very idea of redeveloping habitation for all of the inhabitants of Dharav, as mentioned int he article, puts me ill at ease.  Any kind of large-scale project like this is not going to please everyone, no matter how much the developers listen, or how much community participation is welcomed.  And we’re talking a serious large-scale operation here – there are 600,000 people you have to please.  That’s approximately the same as the entire population of Montenegro.

There are reasonable concerns over what form the multi-storied new buildings might take, and reasonable concerns over how infrastructure changes will alter the face of the city.  Ultimately Mumbai has to change with the times, but it’s always dangerous to have the world watching your metamorphosis.  Who knows?  Perhaps we’ll be shown entirely new models for urban life.   Perhaps there will be some elevated pedestrian network that keeps the vibrancy of the current diverse community alive.  Or perhaps we will simply see another designer’s vision stillborn.


Sonar vs. Nessie

Recently in California and Hawaii, the Navy is being made to limit their use of high=powered sonar.  The reason?  Negative affects on marine mammals.  Conservation groups arguing for the protection of several endangered species of whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions, argued that the sonar damages hearing in the mammals, as well as causing other injuries.  The Navy stated in its case that the limits on sonar use would negatively impact warfare readiness.  Conservation won out in this case, the Navy’s appeal being denied.  So, no more deaf dolphins.  For now.

But this also begs the question of how this sonar might impact other marine life.   Obviously with our familial relation to mammals, we have more sympathy for damage caused to them.  However, in the water sound becomes a powerful weapon, as well as a tool.  It is, quite literally, a wave of force that moves through the ocean – as force, could it kill or injure fish or other marine animals?  Or even plants?

This reminded me of the Mythbusters episode where they shoot fish in a barrel, and it’s found that the bullet doesn’t necessarily have to hit the fish – the blast generated by a 9mm in a barrel generates enough force to kill it.   Also in this episode, it was estimated that 8.15 PSI is enough to kill a fish.  But how much does high-powered sonar generate?  I thought I would check it out.  While I did find some information of past harms, there was not the specific kind of data I was looking for.  Ah well.  Evidently my brain is fried for researching today.

Another thought – due to the intense sonar readings taken in the enclosed Loch Ness, could those very readings be the cause of ‘the death of Nessie‘, rather than global warming?

Working from home.

A recent survey from the National Sleep Foundation stated that one third of workers had fallen asleep or been very sleepy at work over the past month.  For some jobs (such as mine) that’s not really a big deal.  I’ve definitely taken catnaps on a conference room floor during my lunch hour before.  In fact, back when our office had less people and more space, there was even a nap room with a big comfy couch for sleeping.  Personally I would love it if the nap room came back.  Or if we at least got removable hammocks for one of the conference rooms.

What was more noteworthy to me in the survey was the reason people said they were not getting enough sleep –  most reported it was the work that was keeping them up late.  With longer workdays and renewed job requirements for work from home after hours, people aren’t really working a 40-hour work week anymore.  It’s more like 50.  And those hours start cutting into sleep time when people don’t want to give up time with family and friends.

In my current low-level responsibility job, I rarely if ever stay late at work.  There are occasional times when  a document needs to be maile don a certain date and I have to stay a bit late to get it out.  And there are usually a few days that I spend late each quarter to get the quarterly books I manage compiled, printed, and mailed.  But I don’t find that ridiculous.  And I make a point to not be cheated of that time.  In fact, there’s an employment policy in place which states you’re supposed to take 1.5 hours of comp time for every hour of overtime you work.  Fancy that!

I think the sleep deprivation issue comes from another sort of job though.  Jobs with more importance, or jobs where turnaround time is important.  Mike’s job is like that – it seems to require quite a bit of off-hour attention.  I’m sure that the printer we work with also ends up doing overtime on our print job.  And to a certain extent, this is to be expected.  These are jobs where time and speed are priced, where they have extra value and determine the worth of the product, because that speed is a part of the service rendered.   Other jobs, such as sleep deprivation researchers or night watchmen, require an inversion of sleep schedules that can be disturbing and depressing.  What do we say to these people?  Should they quit their jobs due to these unfair demands on their time and schedule?  Or is this service increasingly necessary?

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol with a specific intention: to advocate for a WHOLE day of Christmas holiday time for the lower-class worker.  As time passed and the Industrial revolution moved forward, work was no longer constrained by sunlight- hours increased.  Finally, factors such as the World Wars and a new model of economics placed a higher value on work hours and reinforced the value of laziness/idleness and consumerism.

Somehow though, things have swung back the other way in America.   When did we start to value our time so cheaply?  And why?

Working Hours (by year)