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July 31, 2017

McMansion is logical progression

Housing has always been governed by a simple rule: As people become richer, they spend more money on their homes.... Spending more money has usually meant making the home bigger.

This happened in Renaissance Italy, 17th-century Holland, and 19th-century England. It also happened in the prosperous second half of the 20th century in the United States.

Some statistics: In 1950 the median size of a new house was 800 square feet; by 1970 this had increased to 1,300; 20 years later it had grown to 1,900; and in 2003 it stood at 2,100. More than one-third of new houses built today exceed 2,400 square feet.

-- reason

Wiki McMansion

Important type of insurance coverage that cyclists should have, besides their own health insurance, is the UM/UIM coverage on their automobile insurance policy.

The most important type of coverage that cyclists should have, besides their own health insurance, is the UM/UIM coverage on their automobile insurance policy. Yep, that's right, your auto policy provides protection for YOU in case you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, including a hit and run driver.

This protection, called "UM/UIM" coverage, protects you if you are hit by another driver who is uninsured (that's the "UM" in the coverage). Your UM coverage also means you're covered in a hit and run. You're also covered if you're hit by an underinsured driver (that's the "UIM" in the coverage). This part of your policy covers you if the driver who hit you is insured, but for less than is necessary to cover payment for your injuries.

For example, in some states, "contact" may be required for your UM/UIM coverage to kick in. So if you were actually hit by the driver who left crossed you, your UM/UIM coverage can kick in as needed. If the driver caused you to crash without actually making contact, you're not going to be able to use your UM/UIM coverage. Again, this is not the law in every state, but it's something you should ask your insurance agent about.

And even if your state does allow you to use your UM/UIM coverage, your battle may not be over. When an uninsured driver hits you, your own insurance company will stand in the shoes of the driver and will have all the same defenses against you that the driver would have. For example, your own insurance company can argue that you are partially to blame for the crash. In that way, they become your adversary, even though you paid for this coverage in your premium charges.

Property damage may not be covered by your UM/UIM coverage. So if your bike got destroyed when that uninsured or underinsured driver hit you, your UM/UIM policy may not cover you for the loss. To find out exactly what your policy covers, and what it doesn't cover, you need to check with your agent. And if you don't like the exclusions on your policy, shop around to find a policy that you do like.

Bob Mionske is a former competitive cyclist.

See also the New York bike lawyer Daniel-Flanzig an Bike Law Network.

July 30, 2017

When it comes to new homes, bigger is again better. The median size of new homes built for sale peaked in 2007 at 2,295 square feet, then fell to 2,159 two years later, after the housing crisis hit.

When it comes to new homes, bigger is again better. The median size of new homes built for sale peaked in 2007 at 2,295 square feet, then fell to 2,159 two years later, after the housing crisis hit. But the appetite for ever-larger homes has returned: In 2012, new homes reached a new peak of 2,384 square feet and, according to the National Association of Home Builders, some 41 percent of new homes had four or more bedrooms, up from 34 percent in 2009.

"The housing market is being driven by the move-up buyer, the luxury buyer," said Brad Hunter, chief economist and director of consulting at Metrostudy. "And those who have strong incomes, secure jobs, their stock portfolio is doing well -- they are able to buy whatever they want. And what they are buying is larger houses."

A broad range of options that add or expand rooms and can even change a home's footprint. Media rooms, sunrooms and in-law suites can be added to standard models. Some customers are even opting for a so-called dirty kitchen, a separate galley off the main kitchen that is used to prep food. It keeps the dirty work of cooking hidden so it doesn't sully the increasingly large kitchens that have morphed into granite-slathered family gathering spots.

For Ms. Sleep, a mudroom was crucial. She and her husband compete in triathlons, and they wanted a place to keep their gear and provide space for their children and grandchildren to stow coats, boots and more. The room includes a washer and dryer under a granite countertop with cabinets above, along with a half bath and a utility sink. "It's awesome," she said.

Affluent buyers are drawn to new homes in part because the market for existing homes is so competitive, said Stephen Kim, a Barclays analyst. Inventories of existing homes for sale remain low, and buyers are less interested in large homes in far-flung developments -- the McMansions of the exurbs that were emblematic of the boom and bust. Those homes have struggled to regain their value, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, and affluent buyers want established suburban communities that are closer to job centers and have good schools. And builders are finally starting to put up more houses: Housing starts rose 18 percent in 2013.

When Dr. Jonathan Cohen, a physician in Orange County, Calif., began looking for a home with his wife and young son, they were outbid on one after another. Frustrated, he visited a new Toll Brothers development in Yorba Linda, among the country's wealthiest communities, where he later bought a five-bedroom, 4,600-square-foot home with a double-height foyer.

Dr. Cohen, 35, and his wife, Esther, also a physician, saved for two years to buy it. Aware of how fickle the Southern California market can be, they tried to add options that would raise the home's value. They upgraded the hardwood floors and added solid wood doors and the most expensive exterior the company offered, a manufactured stone. In total, they spent about $80,000 upgrading the home, which ended up costing about $1.2 million. It's within a reasonable commute to work and in a great school district, Dr. Cohen said.

July 27, 2017

New urban Bronx

The development is being carved out of a 16-acre forest called Chapel Farms, whose past owners include the founders of the Theosophical Society.


Fieldston, a neighborhood of majestic oaks and winding privately owned streets in the northwest Bronx, is prized for its quiet country-in-the-city atmosphere, as well as its early 20th-century architecture and proximity to prestigious public and private schools. In April 2006, Fieldston was designated a historic district by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Mr. Moerdler of Community Board 8 said that complaints from Fieldston residents about the development had diminished. He said the opposition had its origins in concerns about a "deforestation program" of the property, which resulted in water runoff from the construction sites after heavy rains.

When asked to explain the difference between the houses of Villanova Heights and so-called McMansions, Mr. Stern said: "This is not a house for the Sopranos. These houses have fine detailing; they are based on creative interpretation of traditional designs."

He said that Villanova Heights was the kind of development that New Urbanists "would like to see happen around the country, where you have a relatively small property and the houses have a strong relationship to street, with clearly identified front doors."

He added that although the houses have three-car garages, they are "tucked around" toward the back of the house, and partially hidden from street view.

July 26, 2017

McMansion / Harvard Joint

People who are shopping for homes in a certain neighborhood expect certain amenities in those homes, says Kermit Baker, director of the remodeling futures program at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

"If you're not keeping up with other homes in the neighborhood, you may have home buyers walk away from it. There's a limited number of folks who want to buy assuming they're going to have to do a significant remodeling project".

-- 2007

The McMansion Effect
The Cullens' Neighborhood Is Super-Sizing,
So What Does It Mean for Terri's Home?
July 26, 2007

July 25, 2017

I bought a house in humilty

I bought a house about two years ago. I got preapproved for a fixed rate loan and then found the home. My lender was absolutly amazed that I bought a home for significantly less than the amount for which I qualified. Said he's never seen that and that, in fact, people often come back needing the loan amount increased. McMansions are going up all around my pre-war bunglaow. I think Americans are crazy.

Hecate. (dead link http://www.haloscan.com/comments.php?user=atrios&comment=111253857282298328#2605269 ) Modern Pict | 04.03.2005

July 22, 2017

Republican are residual of income over education

Mr. Trump did extremely well among voters who lack formal educational credentials but work hard enough to make incomes above the national median. This column will leave it to readers to decide how much myth-busting the authors have achieved with this insight. But for those liberals who are eager to continue looking down on Mr. Trump's voters, this analysis would seem to be very helpful.

The deplorables tend to have fewer academic credentials, so the deplorers can tell themselves that Trump voters lacked the intellectual tools to appreciate the superiority of Hillary Clinton over Mr. Trump.

-- Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu

July 20, 2017

FHFA's rules: "very low-, low-, and moderate-income" defined

The FHFA's rule defines the terms "very low-, low-, and moderate-income":

The term ''low-income'' means--(A) in the case of owner-occupied units, income not in excess of 80 percent of area median income; and(B) in the case of rental units, income not in excess of 80 percent of area median income, with adjustments for smaller and larger families

The term ''moderate-income'' means-- (A) in the case of owner-occupied units, income not in excess of area median income; and (B) in the case of rental units, income not in excess of area median income, with adjustments for smaller and larger families

The term ''very low-income'' means-- (i) in the case of owner-occupied units, families having incomes not greater than 50 percent of the area median income; and (ii) in the case of rental units, families having incomes not greater than 50 percent of the area median income

July 19, 2017

Revelate Designs

Revelate Designs ambassadors ride winter and ride expeditions.

July 18, 2017

Facebook doesn't tell users everything it really knows about them

Facebook's page explaining "what influences the ads you see" says the company gets the information about its users "from a few different sources."

What the page doesn't say is that those sources include detailed dossiers obtained from commercial data brokers about users' offline lives. Nor does Facebook show users any of the often remarkably detailed information it gets from those brokers.

-- Julia Angwin, ProPublica.

July 17, 2017

Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK)

Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) is an automated double clutch transmission similar to VW/Audi DSG or BMW SMG.

The optimised 7-speed PDK, featuring both a manual and an automatic mode, is available as an option and offers extremely fast gear changes with no interruption in the flow of power. And that's with even faster acceleration performance and a further reduction in fuel consumption.

A first for the 911 models: in manual mode, the shift direction simulates that of racing cars and the 911 GT3 models - to the rear to shift up, forwards to shift down. For a racetrack driving experience wherever you are.

Gears one to six have a sports ratio, with top speed being reached in sixth gear. Seventh gear is ratioed primarily for fuel economy.

PDK is essentially two gearboxes in one. This double-clutch arrangement provides an alternating, non-positive connection between the two half gearboxes and the engine by means of two separate input shafts. The flow of power from the engine is transmitted through one half gearbox and one clutch at a time, while the next gear is preselected in the second half gearbox. During a gear change, therefore, one clutch simply opens and the other closes at the same time, enabling gear changes to take place within milliseconds.

July 16, 2017

Chick flick ? Men give better ratings to TV shows watched by men.

Men give better ratings to TV shows watched by men.
Men give worse ratings to TV shows watched by women.

Women give better ratings to TV shows watched by women.
Women give worse ratings to TV shows watched by women.

The trend in men's ratings is stronger; and men give more "1" worst ratings (on a 1 to 10 scale) than women.


Via Walt Hickey, 538.

July 15, 2017

Cheat Sheets for AI, Deep Learning, BigStats

Becoming Human, by Stefan Kojouharov.

July 14, 2017

Predictions with multiple components-- if one part fails, overall prediction may still seem true

Nate Silver will make predictions that have multiple components, so that if one part fails, the overall prediction will seem to have come true, even if its coming true had no relation to the reasons Silver originally offered.

See, e.g., "It's a tight race. Clinton's the favorite but close enough that Trump would probably pull ahead if he 'wins' debate." Silver can look back and say "I saw that Trump could pull ahead."

But what he actually predicted was that Trump could pull ahead based on debate performance. If he pulls ahead for some other reason, Silver is completely wrong (because he had excluded that other possibility), yet he seems right.


Nathan J. Robinson, editor of Current Affairs, piles on:

Silver makes sure to hedge every statement carefully so that he can never actually be wrong. And when things don't go his way, he lectures the public on their ignorance of statistics. After all, probability isn't certainty, he didn't say it would definitely happen. And of course, that's completely true. But recognize what it means: even when Silver isn't wrong, because he's hedged everything carefully, he's still not offering any information of value. Sophisticated mathematical modeling, just like punditry, can't tell us much about the things we most need to know. It can't predict the unpredictable, and the unpredictable is what matters most of all.


Silver is irresponsible and untrustworthy. It's not, as the Huffington Post stupidly alleged, that he's a bad or biased statistician. It's that he mingles solid statistical observations (of highly limited usefulness) with wild prophecy and the same old know-nothing horse-race punditry. He acts as if statistics and polls can tell us to some useful degree whether Trump's highly unorthodox political strategy will work. He offers totally worthless speculative scenarios, such as Bernie Sanders losing all but two states, even though the dynamics that would lead to such scenarios are not accessible to human observation or prediction. And over the course of the election, he used his authority and credibility as a numbers genius to tell people not to worry about Donald Trump, and to treat those who were "freaking out" as if they had were idiots.

July 13, 2017

Wired: Ben Garrison, influencial -alt-right-cartoonist

Ben Garrison isn't a Nazi, or a murderer, but the self-described libertarian's political cartoons have made him a darling of the so-called alt-right. In Garrison's work, "social justice warriors" are pudgy, pink-haired, and squalling; mainstream media outlets are metaphorical trash cans and dinosaurs; Islam is a murderous wolf devouring politically correct sheep. Hillary Clinton's a corrupt witch, and President Trump is muscular, square-jawed, and beige, with flowing yellow hair.

July 12, 2017

Helen Ho of Recycle a Bicycle, NYC

Eleanor's NYC's profile of Helen Shirley Ho of recycle-a-bicycle, New York.



Helen is a New York City native, an environmental advocate, and a thought leader in fields ranging from alternative transportation and waste management to environmental education and community empowerment.

Before getting her hands dirty in the bicycling movement, Helen worked for the NYC Parks Department and the NYC Health Department organizing on issues related to equity and access in parks, play spaces, and healthy eating. Her newest pet project is called the Biking Public Project which aims to expand local cycling advocacy discussions by reaching out to underrepresented bicyclists around New York City including women, people of color, and delivery cyclists.

Helen is currently the Development Director for Recycle-A-Bicycle and has her Masters in Urban Planning from Hunter College.

-- 2013

July 11, 2017

Robot journalists to write up quarterly earnings stories on companies like Krispy Kreme.

Today, a handful of content mills circumnavigate the need to have any humans involved at all. These aren't backstreet backlink marketeers, either: outlets as big as the Associated Press have cut some costs by employing (or deploying) robot journalists to write up quarterly earnings stories on companies like Krispy Kreme. This kind of robotic software can take a bunch of statistics such as company results--or baseball and basketball scores--and create content. A company called Automated Insights created this automated writer fleet, and the firm's robotic authors produced more than a billion pieces of content last year (likely for a fraction of the price that even the cheapest content mill can get away with paying). Compared to the shoehorned-in keywords that sometimes cause mill writers to mangle sentences in ways Shakespeare would blench at, Automated Insights' work could be in contention for a Pulitzer.

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance journalist, writing features for the BBC and The Sunday Times of London. He is based in the United Kingdom.

Bonus thought: could robo-journalists avoid biased reviews such as those of June Chu, Dean of Yale University's Pierson College ?

July 10, 2017

Correctness of Yale

The offensive online posts of June Chu, Dean of Yale University's Pierson College. This morning, Pierson Head Stephen Davis sent the following email to students and faculty:

Dear Pierson community,
I am writing to let you know that Dean Chu has been placed on leave and will not be participating in Commencement activities or working with students through the end of this academic year. In the meantime, Elaine Lincoln will be coordinating with Dean Mark Schenker in the Yale College Dean's Office to make sure that your academic needs are properly addressed.

On paper, Ms. Chu might appear to be among the most culturally sensitive people on the planet. She holds a Ph.D. in social psychology and previously directed the Pan Asian American Community House at the University of Pennsylvania. And according to Yale she's not just deeply concerned about particular groups of students. Her bio reports that she's also an "animal loving pescatarian."

Over the last year, Pierson College Dean June Chu published controversial reviews of local businesses on her personal Yelp account, on one occasion referring to clientele of a restaurant as "white trash" and "low class folks," and on another praising a movie theater for its lack of "sketchy crowds" despite being located in New Haven.

Let me be clear. No one, especially those in trusted positions of educating young people, should denigrate or stereotype others, and that extends to any form of discrimination based on class, race, religion, age, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Yale unequivocally values respect for all. This is simply to reaffirm what I wrote to you on Saturday: what holds us together is our collective effort to ensure that every single person in our midst is valued beyond measure. This is true not only in Pierson and across the university, but most emphatically throughout the city of New Haven and in every locale beyond.

To put it quite simply: if you are white trash, this is the perfect night out for you! This establishment is definitely not authentic by any stretch of any imagination and perfect for those low class folks who believe this is a real night out.

Another theater was staffed by "barely educated morons," wrote Ms. Chu, who had a crude reference in another post and separately whined about the desk attendant at a local gym. She added that "seriously I don't care if you would 'lose your job' (I am sure McDonalds would hire you)."

Dean Chu appears to be a classic progressive elitist, contemptuous of the deplorables--especially the white ones--who lack her academic credentials and income. This column tends to think that people should try to be forgiving when it comes to insensitive comments. Still, the double standard on the Yale campus is striking.

July 9, 2017

Sport Chrono by Porsche

Porsche Sport Chrono provides an

  1. Elegant in-dash watch and clock

  2. access available sport mode(*) in

    • Suspension

    • Steering

      • steering wheel effort
      • steering ratio
      • steering feel
      • engaging rear-wheel steering

    • engine/throttle response
    • transmission shifting and rev matching

      In connection with the PDK, the Sport Chrono Package comes with three additional functions. The first function: Launch Control. This allows for the best possible starting acceleration, a race start. The second function: race track gear change strategy. Here, the PDK uses extremely short shift times and optimum shift points to achieve the maximum acceleration

* In some cases, access Normal, SPORT, SPORT PLUS or the Individual mode.

July 8, 2017

Looking back at sportals and spamalism

search terms offer insight into both our fears ("how bad is caffeine during pregnancy") and desires ("bronies"). And thanks to thousands of poorly paid freelance writers looking to pick up some extra cash or toiling for wages, the results we're served in these vulnerable moments are often hastily scribbled, poorly written, ungrammatical filler text. This old world relic represents a time when getting to the top of Google rankings wasn't dependent on the quality of information you supplied but how many people linked to your site.

Content mills make product to fill a page
, creating the impression that something is there. It's the marshmallow fluff of content.

The differentiator is that although things move quickly in online journalism, writers (freelancers included) are given enough pay to ensure they research the story. They read academic literature; they consider their topic. The legitimacy of a news outlet allows them to call up anyone in the world and pick their brains for a half-hour. Then and only then, once a writer has the best knowledge possible, do they begin clattering fingers against keyboards.

At $2 for 300 words, you're not afforded that luxury. You can't talk to a quack doctor, never mind the person with the most knowledge in the room. In order to make the sheer volume of work you're expected to produce economical, you simply have to write. A quick glance at Wikipedia might work, but nothing more. (In fact, most writers at such content mills would probably just rather copy and paste Wikipedia content, which is why sites like MyAMS have built-in word matching software to prevent you from doing so.)

Content mills appear bleak to outsiders. It's easy to perceive what they do as disingenuous or manipulative, to say nothing of being exploitive. However, after some time in and out of the system, a dark secret becomes clear. These content mills aren't entirely different from legitimate content creation, once known as journalism.

At their essence, both trades invoke the notion of Johannes factotum--Jack of all trades, master of none. Journalists who don't have a specialism can be given a news story, a topic, or an angle in the morning and produce a widely read, explanatory piece that is treated as the story of record by lunchtime. Of course content milling and journalism are separated by a decent distance, but they exist in this same (large) ecosystem. The Johannes sector also encapsulates freelance work bidding sites such as Updesk, the new name for Elance-oDesk after the two big beasts in per-job freelance hiring merged in December 2013. This is the game Amazon targets with its Mechanical Turk website, which allows individuals to earn money on Human Intelligence Tasks, or HITs. Odd jobs, which include writing 50-word product descriptions for $1.25, are available by the thousands.

July 7, 2017

AirBnB personalises, tunes search results

Airbnb learned over time that machine learning could be used to offer this personalization, Mike Curtis said. Airbnb introduced its machine learned search ranking model toward the end of 2014 and has been continuously developing it since. Today Airbnb personalizes all search results.

Airbnb factors in signals about the guests themselves, as well as guests similar to them, when offering up results.

For example, guests provide explicit signals in their search -- the length of stay, the number of bedrooms they need. But as they examine their search results, they may show interest in similar, desirable attributes that the guests themselves might not even notice.

"There's a bunch of other signals that you're giving us based on just which listings you click on," Curtis says. "For example, what kind of setting is it in? What kind of decor is in the house? These are things Airbnb can use to feed into the model to come up with a better prediction of which listings to show you first."

The company pulls well over a hundred signals into the search rank model, Curtis says, and then the machine learning algorithm figures out how all the signals interact, to produce personalized search rankings

July 6, 2017

Joe Cruz's beautiful bike tours

Joe Cruz's beautiful bike tours.

July 4, 2017

Aspirational class eat kale and fit their yoga pants

Sociologist Elizabeth Currid-Halkett has taken the baton from Veblen--but with a modified target. In her new book, The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class, Currid-Halkett takes aim at "Aspirationals"--the group that she sees as the new elite. They're best characterized on the book's webpage as:

Highly educated and defined by cultural capital rather than income bracket, these individuals earnestly buy organic, carry NPR tote bags, and breast-feed their babies. They care about discreet, inconspicuous consumption--like eating free-range chicken and heirloom tomatoes, wearing organic cotton shirts and TOMS shoes, and listening to the Serial podcast. They use their purchasing power to hire nannies and housekeepers, to cultivate their children's growth, and to practice yoga and Pilates

Currid-Halkett notes that most of the wealthy today actually have to work for their riches. "Other than the odd trust fund playboy or oligarch's debutante, the leisure class no longer exists," she writes. In fact, today, in a reversal from the 1970s, the highest earning 20% of workers work more hours than those in the bottom 20%.
The fact that the aspirational class works, and that most of their income is based on the skills they have gained from high levels of education has made "social, environmental, and cultural awareness" the most valuable sources of social capital, Currid-Halkett argues.

The second half of Currid-Halkett's book is devoted to arguing that a person may be part of the elite "aspirational class," even without a high income. "[T]hose with creative writing degrees from Yale, screenwriters who have yet to sell a screenplay, musicians and Teach for America... are also members of this new cultural and social formation," she writes.

July 3, 2017

McMansions became the ultimate symbol of living beyond one's means. Unlike your standard mansion, McMansions aren't just large -- they are tackily so. Looming over too-small lots, these cookie-cutter houses are often decked out with ersatz details, like ch

McMansions became the ultimate symbol of living beyond one's means. Unlike your standard mansion, McMansions aren't just large -- they are tackily so. Looming over too-small lots, these cookie-cutter houses are often decked out with ersatz details, like chandeliers and foam-filled columns. While their features mean they can command a decent price, many of these houses are shoddily built.

Since a "McMansion" is in the eye of the beholder, Zillow doesn't have a targeted way of tracking them nationwide. For this article and the video above, they approximated the category by focusing on houses built after 1980 that were greater than 3,000 square feet but less than 5,000 square feet. They also looked for houses located on streets where the homes are similarly sized, on similarly sized lots, and built within six years of each other, to isolate cookie-cutter communities.

A culture of house flipping helped to quantify certain home improvements, like the addition of colossal marble islands and palatial foyers designed to grab the attention of buyers. That gave these houses even more of a cookie-cutter feel.

Architecture critic Kate Wagner has dedicated her website, McMansion Hell, to explaining why these houses rub people the wrong way.

July 2, 2017

Next City: Washington DC's real estate branding white millennials

Pathologies of the affluent in the segregated White suburbs. "There is a tendency toward pathology in the gilded suburban ghetto," he wrote. "An emptiness reflecting a futile struggle to find substance and worth through the concretes of things and possessions. The residents of the gilded ghetto may escape by an acceptance of conformity, by the deadly ritual of alcoholism, by absorption in work, or in the artificial and transitory excitement of illicit affairs."

Derek Hyra is an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and the founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Center at American University. His research focuses on processes of neighborhood change, with an emphasis on housing, urban politics and race. He is the author of "Race, Class and Politics in the Cappuccino City" (University of Chicago Press 2017).

July 1, 2017

BMW vs Honda: Rear, humpback battle 4 of 4

BMW 640i xdrive GrandTurismo vs Honda Civic hatachback


  • bmw640ixGT_rear.jpg