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Odainsaker

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About Odainsaker

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    Urban Architect

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    Pale Blue Dot, Texas
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    SimCity, Civilization, History, Geography, Art, Architecture, Urban Design...and Anime and J-dorama!

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  1. Was "flying" over Honolulu and Oʻahu with Google Earth Pro when, while following Interstate H-3 out of Hālawa Valley, I spotted her: At center is Hālawa looking west towards Aloha Stadium and Pearl Harbor. The Queen Liliʻuokalani Freeway section of Interstate H-1 forms the "arms," reaching from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on the upper left of the image to Aiea and Pearl City on the upper right of the image. Interstate H-201, the Moanalua Freeway, forms the "leg" on the lower left of the image and will eventually reconnect with the wrap-around H-1, which then continues further on to Honolulu International Airport and downtown Honolulu. Interstate H-3, the John A. Burns Freeway, forms a "leg" leading to and through the Hālawa Valley off to the lower right of the image. Also joining the mix is the Kamehameha Highway, skirting the top of the Aloha Stadium "head." I won't even try to sort out how the tangle of streets, loops, and flyovers create the...ahem...curvilinear body at the junction. Somehow, I'm sure she's female, and an athletic runner too. I admit, I am usually miserly on my highways in SimCity, but I am definitely now going to figure out how to sneak her in. By the way, don't be fooled by the skinniness of the H-3 leg, for it is actually among the most beautiful of freeways as its viaducts course through the valleys and tunnel through the mountains of the Koʻolau mountain range: (Photo "H-3 Interstate highway, Oahu - aerial" by Royce Blair on Flickr) (Photo "Koʻolau Dawn" by Jon on Flickr)
  2. Amazon seeks a new Headquarters

    A $5 billion direct corporate investment in a single city is nothing to scoff at, nor is 50,000 new office jobs. The potential 8 million square feet of office campus area is of a scale to match the combined Twin Towers of the former World Trade Center in Manhattan. Just the amount of activity and money moving through a city from this project would be stunningly transformative for any city's economy, even if the local incentive package itself has to reach $5 billion, and Amazon knows it. Some cities and states have offered to bankroll Amazon's full $5 billion cost or promised Amazon up to $7 billion in tax breaks, expecting that the additional indirect benefits and the movement of capital are more important than the direct costs. After initially joining in the mad bidding war, my home city of San Antonio pulled out of the race two days ago and did nor submit a bid application. Officially, our city leaders rightfully decried the absurd escalation of outlandish incentives that are being desperately pitched to Amazon. Realistically, we actually never had much of a chance given the priorities Amazon set forth, for our transportation systems are pathetic, our educational attainment levels are even worse, poverty is endemic, and our parochial outlook stands in sharp contrast to the cutting-edge image tech companies like to present. Knowing our shortcoming from the outset, San Antonio boosters had hoped to instead promote qualities Amazon did not specifically ask for: cheap cost-of-living, cheap labor, cheap land, cheap energy, low taxes, and low regulation. That might have worked if we had a smidgen of the infrastructure, skillsets, and workforce Amazon was seeking, but we currently lag too far behind in these areas to warrant any close consideration when competing against other major U.S. cities. Perhaps this outcome is just as well, for it has forced our city leaders to openly acknowledge these shortcomings, and to admit how foolishly miserly decisions to not seriously invest in transportation and education in the past have now cost us very real opportunities today. We should already have had our downtown streetcar, intraurban light rail, and interurban commuter rail projects running, but, instead, the anti-rail folks have amended our city charter to effectively block rail and are now trying to do the same at the state legislature. When suggestions surfaced at the state level in 2011 to push the University of Texas at San Antonio into a nationally ranked Tier 1 research university, we should not have instead attacked the perceived economic value of higher education or decried the godlessness of liberal curriculums. When AT&T moved its corporate headquarters from San Antonio to Dallas in 2008 citing the poor quality and lack of connections of our international airport, and then Toyota cited the same issue in 2014 when they too opted for Dallas over the Texas city that actually hosts their manufacturing and assembling plant, we should have looked more carefully at improving our airport. Woulda, shoulda, coulda... No matter how cheap the bulk electricity here is, Amazon was never going to locate a second headquarters to someplace that can only barely scrap together an occasional direct flight back to Seattle on a minor airline. Still, I would have recommended the city bid anyway with a fair, modest package accounting for our limited means. Let Amazon be the one to turn it down. After all, Amazon's is by their own admission a transformative project, and if they really and honestly wanted to live up to promoted ideals about socially progressive urban transformation, perhaps they should pick a city where they would indeed radically transform the local trajectory. Philadelphia's The Inquirer offered this article: "What scrappy Camden offers Amazon others can't: A chance to lift up an entire city." Nah, my money is on Boston or New York. Meanwhile, Toyota and Mazda have formed a joint-venture to construct a new $1.6 billion, 4,000-job Corolla manufacturing plant in the U.S. and are seeking $1 billion in location incentives. San Antonio, with its currently successful Toyota Tacoma and Tundra plant, can strongly and realistically compete for this and the potential 20,000 indirect related jobs if it can get willing cooperation from the state in forming an attractive package. Reportedly, Toyota had even already bought the required land in anticipation of a second plant here 12 years ago. I fear, however, that foolishness at the state and national levels will undercut our chances, for the state legislature embarked on bathroom-gender bill fiasco that clouded perceptions of the state's business climate as the legislators of Ted Cruz Land battled to see who could claim to be the most conservative. It's the sort of culture war foolishness that I think may scare away Amazon from headquartering in Austin or Dallas, even though Amazon bought up Austin's Whole Foods chain and has clustered one of its highest concentration of U.S. facilities outside Seattle in the Dallas area.
  3. The Elephant Kashimashi (エレファントカシマシ) - "Sayonara Party"「さよならパーティー」
  4. Underground freight transport

    Actually, I think this has been done before, with Wiki offering: Chicago Tunnel Company London Post Office Railway I'm not certain why both systems became defunct, though I get the impression that costs from constructing and then operating another intervening transportation mode with additional sorting and handling facilities made underground freight transit and delivery more complex and expensive rather than shipping directly using the already existing roadways and receiving docks. Reducing clutter and congestion of city streets would be a nice and convenient social benefit, but businesses prefer that costs be pushed onto the public while profits be kept private, and not the other way around.
  5. Quote of the Day

    "Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops." -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on instructions from President Trump to continue pursuing diplomacy with North Korea regarding its nuclear program. It's so reassuring, I feel safer already!
  6. What are you reading?

    After the Titanic wreck was found, Walter Lord wrote a follow-up to A Night to Remember titled The Night Lives On, which spends more time on the immediate aftermath and investigations about the sinking while also challenging many of the popular myths that have been attached to the disaster in light of the discovery. Even the cover art of the 1986 hardcover dust jacket was startling:
  7. I was watching a video where YouTube vlogger Max D. Capo participated on the morning television program "Goji ni Muchū" with Japanese comedian and personality Matsuko Deluxe. It's cute and amusing..."I was on JAPANESE TV with Matsuko Deluxe": Episode 1, Episode 2, Behind the Scenes. Of course, despite the pretty boy with pretty hair, the former adult film star karaoke hostess, and the muumuu cross-dressing Matsuko Deluxe channeling Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump on a bus with a hot microphone, the moment that actually caught my eye was a brief flash in Episode 2 of this building: I know I have that image saved somewhere in my hoard of building references... Ah ha! It's the 1930 Tokyo Theater (Tōkyō Gekijō, 東京劇場), popularly called the "Tōgeki" (東劇) a historic Shochiku Company theater in Tokyo's Tsukiji district remembered for its Broadway-eque, burlesque, opera, and kabuki shows as well as motion pictures. Today's Takarazuka Revue troupe, once contemporaries of the pre-war Togeki, would be the closest to the dance shows I imagine would have been produced and featured here. Perhaps dancing showgirls in a Baroque pleasure palace was a sign of too much liberalization by the fading Taishō Democracy. Reactionaries would instead swiftly bring conservatism, traditionalism, and military expansionism, and the theater arts would be made to feed nationalism and state propaganda to a nation marching to war. The Togeki is also noted as being the only major Tokyo kabuki theater building to survive the fire bombings of World War II and became the center of the occupied capital's kabuki preservation. The building, however, could not survive the ravages of the postwar economic recovery. After the more famous Kabuki-za was rebuilt in 1950, the Togeki converted from live dance performances to cinema. In 1975, Shochiku, now a major film studio, "renewed" the old theater with a swankily modern headquarters tower and movie multiplex. The new Togeki: Errr...I'll be honest, I wouldn't know that this modern building was existing. Even if I did know, I would not remember it, and if I did remember it, I would try very hard to forget it again. Oh Brave New World that is the architecture of the New Asia... On the other hand, I would definitely remember the Spanish Baroque and kimono-clad ladies of the old Togeki. Max in his YouTube vlog even ironically notes the cultural memory of the theater's dance and music school that was lost on both him and the rest of us clueless foreign gaijin outsiders...
  8. STEX Issues - Community Report Thread

    I'll add in another URL straggler from 2004: In the description, there is a link for discussion, questions, and comments: http://www.simtropolis.com/idealbb/view.asp?mode=viewtopic&topicID=48119 However, that link uses a pretty old URL, leading to a page not found. Pasting the topic ID of the broken URL into a current URL brings a working forum thread from 2012: http://community.simtropolis.com/forums/topic/48119- / I'm not actually sure if that is the thread originally intended to be linked, for while the brief discussion does refer to toroca's file, it reads as after-the-fact rather than contemporaneous to the file. That forum thread is also full of broken links lost in some site changing and processing and which now just try to reload the thread. toroca's Opera House Fix is commonly mentioned as an important fix in many popular lists of recommended SimCity 4 mods, so its STEX description might be a candidate for hands-on fixing. ________ This next is perhaps outside the scope of the STEX-specific issues of this thread, but toroca's included readme.html also contains outdated and broken URLs to Simtropolis forum threads. They are not necessarily critical links, and other broken links in the readme point to sites outside the control of Simtropolis, but it may be useful to be aware of these in the discussion of automatic redirects or creating pinned guides on how to find forum threads with obsolete URLs.
  9. Wang Leehom (王力宏) - "Fàng Kāi Nǐ De Xīn"《放開你的心》 ("Release Your Heart") I don't normally listen to hip hop, dance pop, or anything introduced with the word "homeboy," but the sick gong and Leehom's nerdy Nokia phone won me over on this clip.
  10. JR Kyushu also runs the 787 Series as limited expresses, such as the Ariake Express and the Kirishima Express. These are stern, commanding-looking trainsets in gunmetal grey and resembling military gunships. Even the stark livery looks like something for the Führersonderzug or commuter rail for Imperial Stormtroopers. In contrast to the gleaming white and aerodynamic Shinkansen trainsets, the muscular JR Kyushu 787 Series are scary sexy! I always imagine that if we could ever implement a regional commuter rail system in my hometown, the 787 Series would be the trainset we would employ just for the coolness factor, and they would operate in tandem with the proposed N700s just as they already successfully do on Kyushu. Kumamoto in the middle of Kyushu is San Antonio's sister city, so maybe they can pitch this and get us a discount or a demonstration model for our own train otaku.
  11. An urban planning tragedy for my hometown of San Antonio was the sudden death of its 2014 streetcar starter project, which had been directly modeled after the tram systems of Vienna and Amsterdam. The suburban anti-rail luddites went berserk when they saw the Evil Progressive Liberal Downtown European Monstrosity, and, not content to have cowed the local politicians with fear of the Republican election tidal wave just months before project groundbreaking, they went so far as to change the city charter to effectively bar any new rail mass transit infrastructure in the future. This still isn't enough, and some are trying in the Texas legislature to constitutionally block rail transit statewide. Ironically, Amazon is now seeking bids from cities for the construction of a new corporate headquarters, and San Antonio has thrown its hat into the ring as one of the more serious wild card contenders. However, Amazon has expressly stated in their program that they are prioritizing mass transit options, and today our city has effectively none when we could have had up and running one of the more novel setups for a major U.S. city. For want of a relatively cheap and easily installed streetcar system, we may have lost out on an additional $5 billion in direct corporate downtown investment over and beyond the potential investment already stymied when the project was killed. I could have already been riding one of those... Thankfully, the mayor and city council that squandered the streetcar have all finally been ousted this year for their hopeless lack of vision, and I was happy to help vote them out specifically over their betrayal of this project.
  12. World Affairs

    Of course, North Korea has been repeatedly declaring and re-declaring war on the U.S. ever since the shooting war ended in 1953, so, like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, the world has gotten used to shrugging off North Korean crazy talk. That was until the U.S. got its own crazy-talking leader, and in the space of a few months we've gone from daring them to fire missiles at Guam, threats at the podium of the UN General Assembly to "totally destroy" North Korea, to now counter-threats of a test detonation of an ICBM-launched thermonuclear weapon over the Pacific. We're not even a year into this White House yet and we have already had our second nuclear war scare based on a flippant comment. Is the new strategy working? Rocket Man Glorious Leader, Shining Sun, and Supreme Commander Marshall Kim Jong-un says: You know we are in trouble when the dictator of the DPRK sounds like the sane, adult one... ...err, nevermind. Actually, what really matters is this line: Consider the other regimes that have given up or been thwarted in their attempts to gain nuclear weapons: Nazi Germany gutted, Imperial Japan nuked, Iraq invaded, Syria bombed, Libya overthrown, Apartheid South Africa toppled, Belarus chained, Kazakhstan shackled, Ukraine dismembered. Iran has made an agreement regarding its nuclear program, and even though Iran has actually been certified by the Trump Administration as being in compliance with the terms of the agreement, the Trump Administration is expected to renounce the deal anyway and resume an unpredictable confrontation. Any hardline leader looking at this pattern would reasonably think that the best way to avoid destruction, revolution, or even execution is to jealously guard their nuclear weapons stockpile and to swiftly race to the finish on an ICBM delivery system as the ultimate deterrent to outside-pressured regime change. Kim Jong-un has just told us this, and now that they know they can absolutely never give up their nuclear deterrence, what is the endgame that doesn't end in Nuclear Apocalypse? The two words "totally destroy" has sealed the deal. Well done, Mr. President.
  13. Or even in Texas, as the N700 Series is being heavily touted for the proposed Dallas-Houston high-speed rail line. I was surprised several weeks ago when this Japanese-sponsored television commercial aired here in San Antonio: No doubt the television promotion, now uploaded to YouTube by Prime Minister Abe's office, was being pushed by the Japanese government, JR Central, and Texas Central Railways during the closing of the special session of the Texas Legislature when there were fears that alongside kooky regulations on bathroom gender usage the Legislature would also pass kooky barriers aimed at undermining urban and regional planning in general and this rail project in particular. While local city powers and rights were somewhat curtailed, the group of bills aimed at crushing the Dallas-Houston high-speed rail project ultimately did fail. Still, the nasty legislative session had actually reached the point such that our Lieutenant Governor outright blamed cities and their local governments for "all our problems in America." Gee, all of them?! That is not an attitude conducive to the success of urban and regional planning, and it's no wonder they were so caught up absurdly trying to police and prosecute toilet usage. They'll find a way to mess this up too. Still, if this project can successfully jump through all the barriers continually put up by rabid rail opponents, the next major corridor for the Texas Triangle would be from Dallas to Austin-San Antonio, creating a "Texas Tōkaidō" with actual Shinkansen trainsets. Trump says he and his good buddy Abe will make it happen. I'm not sure what Trump is doing on his end, but Abe at least has already uploaded a YouTube video!
  14. An Introduction to The URS

    I like how the interior of many of the blocks of the lush, green suburbs have shared communal parks or linear parks. I grew up in such a neighborhood, which was planned out in the early 1940s with attached housing lining gridded mega blocks penetrated by cul-de-sacs. This layout created within the mega blocks large areas of parks and fields which many backyard areas abutted, though many residents opted to not even fence in their yards but to instead leave them open to these communal parks. Where proximity of the houses on the block were tighter, a narrow access path between opposing backyards still remained, and this path often became its own linear park. The larger field parks and the narrower linear parks formed their own interconnected path system, so it was possible to walk around almost the entire suburb via the park system rather than by walking along sidewalks of the streets. Sadly, later radical redevelopment of the community removed the cul-de-sacs in favor of thru-streets, breaking up much of the integrated park network into smaller park segments. I have not really seen a similar setup since, as most suburbs I see either have specifically programmed parks on unusable or unsellable land, fenced-off linear dry creeks that are intended primarily for drainage and not communal use, or outer greenways meant as buffer zones against neighboring developments. Yours is actually the first that I have seen with significant regularized parks and linear parks for its suburbs that recalls the layouts I grew up in.
  15. Wang Leehom (王力宏) - "Kiss Goodbye" Wet Leehom...squee!!!
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