Unplugged – or unhinged?

(Summer re-run) I’m reading reading a moving and important book by Sharon Astyk called “Depletion and Abundance: Life On The New Home Front”. Uniquely among recent books on life after the Peaks – energy, protein, biodiversity etc – Astyk does not write to scare us all witless. She does not write about elaborate ways to […]

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The meaning of melons (revisited)

Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), told the US Congress last year that Japan’s debt path was ‘out of control’. Simon warned of “a real risk that Japan could end up in a major default”. [The IMF expects Japan’s gross public debt to reach 218pc of gross domestic product (GDP) […]

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Silent tree hugging in Tenerife

The criminal over-development of the Canary Islands – and the loss of biodiversity and social capital that followed – was financed by the same banks and speculators that our governments are now trying so desperately to save. Given the desecration of these beautiful islands, the bankers who financed it all do not deserve to be […]

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My plan to save the city of Nice $250 million

This blog first proposed the replacement of trophy buildings with street art back in 2002. In a piece called “Trophy buildings are over” we argued that because they are conceived as spectacles, so-called signature architecture would be subject to the law of diminishing returns: the novelty would wear off, and buildings conceived as tourist destinations […]

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From mega, to micro: What You Can Do With the City

[Summer re-run; first published last year] The atmosphere at last week’s Megacities conference in Delft was subdued. I don’t suppose my own talk, which ploughed a similar path to the Debt, Diesel and Dämmerung narrative I mentioned yesterday, helped lighten the mood very much. Spirits were low because it is becoming clear that mega solutions […]

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Alternative trade networks and the coffee system

Every day 1.5 billion cups of coffee are drunk somewhere in the world – quite a few of them in this house – but few of us in the North know much about the 25 million families that grow and produce this valuable bean. After reading a new book called Confronting The Coffee Crisis I […]

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Salvage design

(Summer re-run: first published 26 July 2008) Bamboo scaffolding, knotted aerial lines, hand painted signs or converted plastic bags: German photographer Thomas Kalak has published a book called “Thailand – Same same, but different!” that celebrates the Thais’ exceptionally gifted art of improvisation. The strange objects and arrangements remind Kalak of art world “ready-mades” from […]

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Innovating our way to oblivion

(Summer re-run: first published 16 June 2008) Out-of-control buzzwords are like locusts: you can swat handfuls of them down with a bat, but more will come to take their place. I’ve been swatting away for ages in this blog at all things Conceptual, Cultural, Clustered and (especially) Creative. But now we’re suffering a massive counter-attack […]

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Marketing, me, and the future of tv

(Summer re-run: first published September 2009) A marketing whiz I know in New York asked me to do her a favour: answer some questions about the future of tv. At least, that’s what I thought she asked. But when, a couple of days later, a FedEx package arrived, it contained a tiny digital voice recorder […]

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