Numlock News: August 8, 2022 • Noisy Subways, Reindeer, Sanitation
By Alison Griswold
The guest writer today is Ali Griswold. She writes Oversharing, a newsletter on the sharing economy, sustainable cities, and urbanism in the 21st century, and is a former reporter for Quartz and Slate.
Londoners love to complain about public transport and the Tube’s Victoria Line is no exception. Despite being a commuter’s dream, with trains that arrive every 110 seconds during peak hours, the Victoria Line also receives the most noise complaints, per City Hall data. Since November 2016, the stretch between King’s Cross St. Pancras and Highbury and Islington in North London received 108 noise complaints, while complaints on other sections of the line brought the total to 306. Tube operator Transport for London says it has ground down 17,500 meters of noisy rails in the past six months. Surprisingly, the notoriously screechy Central Line segment between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green, sometimes termed the “Bethnal Green Scream,” didn’t make the cut.
Amazon has struck a deal to expand its smart home empire with the $1.7 billion acquisition of Roomba maker iRobot. Amazon already gets plenty of data on its consumers between Prime, Alexa and previous smart home acquisitions like the Ring doorbell and Eero routers, but iRobot would give it access to intimate home details like the room-by-room maps that the Roomba vacuum collects and stores. In addition to the glaring privacy concerns, the deal also promises to draw further antitrust scrutiny to Amazon, which just last month said it would buy healthcare company One Medical for $3.49 billion.
ALL CAPS NIMBY
Billionaire venture capitalist and resident NIMBY Marc Andreessen is IMMENSELY AGAINST the construction of multifamily homes in his town of Atherton, California, aka America’s most expensive zip code. Despite being in favor of building more housing to address supply shortages and rising costs — in 2020, Andreessen published an essay titled “It’s Time to Build” bemoaning sky-high home prices in the Bay Area — he and his philanthropist wife appear to have submitted a public comment to the mayor and city council declaring their IMMENSE objection to a proposal to build a modest 130 multifamily units in Atherton by 2031, which they fear would MASSIVELY decrease their home values.
People aren’t the only ones suffering as the climate crisis brings extreme heat to the U.S. this summer. Zoos are being forced to find creative ways to keep their animals cool in temperatures that have reached 99 degrees and which are especially dangerous for animals native to cold environments. Strategies at Stone Zoo outside of Boston include fans for reindeer, air-conditioned units for snow leopards, and blocks of ice filled with meat for Seymour the jaguar, because we all need a popsicle sometimes.
An anonymous civil disobedience campaign is gaining traction in the U.K., where typical household energy bills are expected to reach £3,358 ($4,054) this October. Don’t Pay U.K. aims to get 1 million people to cancel their energy bills if a planned price hike goes through on Oct. 1 to pressure suppliers and the government to take action on costs. Since launching in June, more than 75,000 people have signed up to join the strike.
Congressional Republicans are mad that the oil and gas industry hasn’t done more to forcefully oppose Democrats’ latest plan to combat climate change. In a stunning if not exactly surprising reversal of roles, Republicans are urging lobbyists, energy execs and oil companies like Exxon Mobil to come out more strongly against the Inflation Reduction Act. The legislation includes $369 billion in spending on energy, and the U.S. arms of both BP and Shell have joined 38 other companies in signing a letter urging its quick passage.
The New York City Department of Sanitation has racked up 45,000 followers on TikTok (@nycsanitation) with googly-eyed posts about alternate side parking, snowplows and misplaced trash bags. A PSA by former Sanitation Commissioner Edward Grayson against illegal dumping, set to Mario Kart music, went viral with more than 2 million views. The oddly beloved government account is more proof that nothing unites New Yorkers like the quest to find a better way to deal with the city’s garbage.
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