The Crackdown on Chinatown's Roast Ducks: Best #Cityreads of the Week

A round-up of the best stories on cities and urbanism we've come across in the last seven days.

Image
Mo Riza on Flickr

A round-up of the best stories on cities and urbanism we've come across in the last seven days. Tweet us your favorites with #CityReads.

"The Roast Duck Bureaucracy," Eveline Chao, Open City Magazine

Since its introduction three years ago, in response to a number of food-safety scares — including 1,300 salmonella cases reported in 2008 — New York City’s ABC restaurant grading scheme has been welcomed by the public and hailed by Michael Bloomberg for lowering salmonella outbreaks by 14 percent in its first year. Yet it has also been criticized by restaurateurs as confusing, arbitrary, and little more than a moneymaking racket for the city. In ethnic enclaves like Chinatown, the confusion surrounding the grading scheme can be compounded by language barriers, as well as a larger clash between tradition and bureaucracy.

The financial consequences are hefty. Even A restaurants pay an average $800 per year. B graded joints pay an average $2,800-4,200 each on fines and additional inspections (poor grades bring on more frequent visits from the department). A restaurant that earns a C will pay an average $6,000-10,000 per year.

"No Place Like Home," Aaron Wiener, Washington City Paper

t's the rare idea that's both potentially transformative and simple enough to describe in a single sentence:

Divide the surface of the planet into roughly 57 million three-by-three-meter squares, label each one with a unique sequence of three random words (say, spouting.loves.granny or halfpipe.faster.tedious) and use these to replace the impossible-to-remember strings of numbers that comprise our geographical coordinate system.

"You cannot convey anything more effectively than with words. They're very quick to say, and have a very high verification rate," says Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words, the British startup that's out to replace numbers with words in the way we talk about locations. "Right now, over the phone, I could tell you 'knife.fork.spoon,' you could put that into what3words and it would give you one specific three-by-three meter square." (Incidentally, it's in North London.)




Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/plan-replace-geographic-coordinates-earth-unique-strings-three-words-180949946/#UvGSujmMJG0hEPGx.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

Divide the surface of the planet into roughly 57 million three-by-three-meter squares, label each one with a unique sequence of three random words (say, spouting.loves.granny or halfpipe.faster.tedious) and use these to replace the impossible-to-remember strings of numbers that comprise our geographical coordinate system.

"You cannot convey anything more effectively than with words. They're very quick to say, and have a very high verification rate," says Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words, the British startup that's out to replace numbers with words in the way we talk about locations. "Right now, over the phone, I could tell you 'knife.fork.spoon,' you could put that into what3words and it would give you one specific three-by-three meter square." (Incidentally, it's in North London.)




Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/plan-replace-geographic-coordinates-earth-unique-strings-three-words-180949946/#UvGSujmMJG0hEPGx.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

Divide the surface of the planet into roughly 57 million three-by-three-meter squares, label each one with a unique sequence of three random words (say, spouting.loves.granny or halfpipe.faster.tedious) and use these to replace the impossible-to-remember strings of numbers that comprise our geographical coordinate system.

"You cannot convey anything more effectively than with words. They're very quick to say, and have a very high verification rate," says Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words, the British startup that's out to replace numbers with words in the way we talk about locations. "Right now, over the phone, I could tell you 'knife.fork.spoon,' you could put that into what3words and it would give you one specific three-by-three meter square." (Incidentally, it's in North London.)




Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/plan-replace-geographic-coordinates-earth-unique-strings-three-words-180949946/#UvGSujmMJG0hEPGx.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

 

It's the rare idea that's both potentially transformative and simple enough to describe in a single sentence:

Divide the surface of the planet into roughly 57 million three-by-three-meter squares, label each one with a unique sequence of three random words (say, spouting.loves.granny or halfpipe.faster.tedious) and use these to replace the impossible-to-remember strings of numbers that comprise our geographical coordinate system.

"You cannot convey anything more effectively than with words. They're very quick to say, and have a very high verification rate," says Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words, the British startup that's out to replace numbers with words in the way we talk about locations. "Right now, over the phone, I could tell you 'knife.fork.spoon,' you could put that into what3words and it would give you one specific three-by-three meter square." (Incidentally, it's in North London.)




Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/plan-replace-geographic-coordinates-earth-unique-strings-three-words-180949946/#UvGSujmMJG0hEPGx.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

A year ago, Harris and his family had their own apartment in Anacostia. Then he got laid off from his security job and fell behind on rent. He applied for the city’s emergency rental assistance program but was evicted before he received any funds. For a year, the family stayed with a series of friends and relatives, until they had nowhere to go. Last month, they checked into Virginia Williams.

Reid’s path to the rec centers was similar. She lost her home three years ago and managed to stay with acquaintances until late February, when the last one finally asked her to leave. As with the Harris family, it’s her first time in the shelter system.

It’s stories like these that lead homeless advocates to argue that, contra city officials’ claims, there is a real spike in family homelessness. And while the city may have been taken by surprise, they say the crisis was foreseeable.

"Could Austin and San Antonio Be the Next Dallas-Fort Worth?," John Egan, Culture Map Austin

An iconic “shared” project, such as a regional airport, would make a big difference in speeding up the union of the Austin and San Antonio areas, according to Hoover. A proposed high-speed rail line between the two cities could also help trigger mega-metro status, he said.

“To my mind, the single most influential event that would propel the coming together of these two great cities is high-speed rail,” said Ryan Robinson, the City of Austin’s demographer. “Imagine stepping on a train in downtown Austin and seeing the Alamo out the train window about 30 minutes later. Talk about time-space convergence.”

"Struggling New Mexico Town Hopes to Get Economic Boost from Space Tourists," Al Jazeera America

Originally called Hot Springs, the town thrived as a health resort before its treatments fell out of vogue after World War II. In 1950 residents voted to change the name to that of a popular radio quiz show, Truth or Consequences, in the hope of luring visitors back.

Still struggling decades later to entice tourists to its spas, art galleries, stores and cafes, the town’s business community hopes the rich joyriders, their entourages and a stream of tourists from around the world will kick-start a long-overdue revival.

 "The Casualties of Phnom Penh's Real Estate Boom," Daniel Otis, Next City

As Phnom Penh mushrooms, the city’s urban poor are being removed from their homes with little or no compensation to make way for commercial and residential developments. The trend is being repeated elsewhere in the country as well, with entire villages forcefully relocated for the sake of foreign-backed sugarcane and rubber plantations. According to Cambodian human rights group LICADHO, more than 400,000 Cambodians have been affected by such land concessions since 2003.

Top image: Mo Riza on Flickr via CC license

About the Author