History of the World In Twelve Maps

February 17, 2018

Jerry Brotton’s “History of the World in Twelve Maps“ is an incredibly well-researched and beautifully written homage to the power of image to influence one’s view of the world.

He covers Ptolemy, Al-Idrisi, the Hereford Mappamundi, the Kangnido Map, Martin Waldseemuller’s World Map (the one that names America), Diogo Ribeiro, Mercator, Joan Blaeu, the Cassini Family, Halford Mackinder, Arno Peters, and Google Earth.  Each chapter is a detailed history of the zeitgeist of the time period, and examines the philosophical, intellectual and political uses and abuses to which contemporary maps were put.

From the introduction:

Throughout most recorded history, the overwhelming majority of maps put the culture that produced them at their centre, as many of the world maps discussed in this book show.  Even today;s online mapping is partly driven by the user’s desire to first locate him- or herself on the digital map … But if such a perspective literally centres individuals, it also elevates them like gods, inviting them to take flight and look down upon the earth from a divine viewpoint, surveying the whole world in one look, calmly detached, gazing upon what can only be imagined by earthbound mortals.  The map’s dissimulating brilliance is to make the viewer believe, just for a  moment, that such a perspective is real, that they are not still tethered to the earth, looking at a map.”

An excellent and stimulating study that I thoroughly recommend.

Earliest known world map: Iraq 700-500 BC

Earliest known world map: Iraq 700-500 BC


Image: A Cool Drink

February 17, 2018

Building Affordability

February 17, 2018

Current city development policies have brought Vancouver to a desperate position: we are still building unaffordable housing forms and gaining little or no benefits.  These are some notes off the top of my head, designed to spark conversation and help develop policies for the future:

  • The City should officially adopt the CHMC definition of “affordable” in which “affordable housing” is defined as housing costing a maximum of 30% of gross annual income;
  • ALL City-owned land must be used for affordable housing, either as secured rentals with rents tied to suites not tenancy or for cooperative housing projects or for very low-or-no-income projects;
  • My view on CACs have been spelled out often enough. They sounded like a good idea but have become just an addiction for the City without giving us commensurate benefits. Moreover, they have removed all democratic control over the kind of community amenities with which we furnish the city and improve the lives of our residents. CACs should be eliminated and replaced by a rezoning charge (or land tax);
  • All proceeds from rezoning charges must be used solely for affordable housing;
  • The rezoning charge should be 75% of land lift for projects selling as private property;
  • The rezoning charge should be 70% of land lift for purpose built rentals renting at rates above affordability and/or with rents attached to tenancy;
  • The rezoning charge should be 50% of land lift for secured rental project meeting affordability criteria and with rents tied to suites not tenancy;
  • ALL development projects must pay 100% of associated infrastructure costs (DCLs);
  • We must return to the former system of paying for community amenities: bi-annual plebiscites for bonds backed by property taxes through which all Vancouverites have the chance to determine what amenities they want and are willing to pay for; no longer can amenities be determined by secret backroom deals between developers and unelected officials.

Just ideas. I am not a housing economist and I willing to be schooled in the details. But I think the purpose and motives behind the list above are clear