03 February 2020

The Verge: “I went to Australia to test out Tesla’s vision of the future”

Besides the electric charger, the mansion is also fitted with solar panels and a Tesla Powerwall, a battery for storing the energy they generate. While I live for dumb thrills like driving an expensive car I don’t own on the wrong side of the road, I am, in fact, at the mansion to experience the clean energy lifestyle Tesla is selling.

The Model X and mansion are, in some ways, emblematic of the Tesla lifestyle and approach. The dream of this lifestyle is that you can have everything you already have but without fossil fuels. You can keep on driving a car. You can live in your porn mansion entirely on renewable energy and sell any extra power you harvest to the grid. But best of all, you don’t have to think about any of it.

It’s true that this is a story about Tesla energy, but it’s also true that we all use energy all the time. The mundane tasks I engage in as I settle into the mansion — the bath, cooking dinner — of course, require energy. I can watch the little jiggles of energy required on the Tesla app. All day long, the mansion has been running on solar energy, and it continues to do so right up until I plug in the Model X to charge. That battery draws so much energy that the house switches to the grid.

Elizabeth Lopatto

A good vision for a future where individual homes are less dependent on grid power – but if your local energy generation can’t charge a Tesla, I would argue the vision has a long way ahead before becoming reality.

02 February 2020

The Guardian: “Paris, city of romance, rues new image as the dirty man of Europe”

The city of light and of romance has become a dirty old town, or as locals have nicknamed it, Paris poubelle (dustbin Paris).

On Saturday, World Cleanup Day, Parisians were urged to pick up the mess they and visitors have made. Paris is definitely getting dirtier. It’s filthy everywhere. The city needs an aggressive policy to make the streets cleaner and safer, said Matthew Fraser, professor of communications at the American University of Paris, who has lived in the city for the best part of 30 years.

Paris thrives on its own moral chaos. Nothing is organised, everything is urban anarchy. I don’t think Parisians notice it, because it’s their chaotic energy. But if you’re from the outside, or from another culture, the city is a mess.

Kim Willsher

Despite its reputation as city of romance, Paris has never been the cleanest city, but apparently that problem has grown out of proportion in recent years. Though I would dispute the idea that it’s the dirtiest city in Europe – people who think that clearly haven’t seen Bucharest. I’ve been wanting to return to Paris for some time, and maybe this will be the year to finally do it. If so, I must remember to compare them and report back with a longer article on the blog.

Time: “How Amsterdam’s Mayor wants to remake the Red Light District”

Named “De Wallen” (The Walls) in Dutch for its position inside the old city walls, the red light district’s medieval buildings have been a hub for sex workers since the 15th century—long before the Netherlands legalized brothels and began regulating and taxing prostitution in October 2000. Today, escort services and sex clubs make up a significant part of Amsterdam’s sex work sector. But De Wallen’s window brothels—popularized in the 1960s as authorities grew more tolerant of women opening their curtains to attract clients—remain iconic: the literal manifestation of the clear-eyed Dutch approach to activities that other countries would rather sweep under the rug.

Relocating or replacing the red light district with a purpose-built prostitution hotel would also mean the end of an international landmark—even if it’s a controversial one. To have the sex industry integrated with so called ‘normal life’, among churches and restaurants and a kindergarten and the Salvation Army shop – that’s pretty special, Majoor says, noting that the red light district developed over centuries. You can’t just create that atmosphere somewhere else. If we get rid of the sex work, Amsterdam’s city center will be like any other old European capital.

Ciara Nugent

I’ve visited Amsterdam last fall on my way to Iceland, but I haven’t made it to the Red Light District in the three days I was there – it was pouring rain for half the time, so there’s half my excuse. I must admit I wasn’t terribly impressed with the city – the center is just an endless collection of canals and houses that looked more or less the same to me – so I have to agree with the last statement. The open attitude towards sex and drugs makes the city unique and therefore attractive to tourists, so forcing prostitution out of the way would damage the city’s personality – like Paris closing down Moulin Rouge. In a sense I regret not having visited the Red Light District, now that it’s possible it may not be there next time.