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California Today: California Today: Should a Tech Whiz Be in Charge?

Supported byU.S.California Today: Should a Tech Whiz Be in Charge?PhotoSam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, in San Francisco this month.Credit Jim Wilson/The New York TimesGood morning.(Want to get California Today by email? Here’s the sign-up.)At 32, Sam Altman is one of Silicon Valley’s most influential voices.He presides over Y Combinator, the start-up incubator that has nurtured companies with an estimated combined value of more than $85 billion.Lately, he’s drawn attention for his ideas on fixing the world’s problems, such as the fallout from jobs being steamrollered by automation.“A lot of people in tech say they take the long view, but Sam seems to really mean it,” Farhad Manjoo, the New York Times technology columnist, said in an email.Newsletter Sign UpContinue reading the main storyCalifornia TodayThe news and stories that matter to Californians (and anyone else interested in the state). Sign up to get it by email.Thank you for subscribing.An error has occurred. Please try again later.You are already subscribed to this email.View all New York Times newsletters.We caught up with Mr. Altman by phone. Some excerpts:Q. There’s talk of you pondering a run for governor. What’s the word?A. That was taken deeply out of context, that quote […]

Flint residents are still fighting for their lives.

There’s been much high-profile gushing over the spaceship-in-Eden–themed campus that Apple spent six years and $5 billion building in Silicon Valley, but it turns out techno-utopias don’t make great neighbors.

“Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general,” writes Adam Rogers at Wired, in an indictment of the company’s approach to transportation, housing, and economics in the Bay Area.

The Ring — well, they can’t call it The Circle — is a solar-powered, passively cooled marvel of engineering, sure. But when it opens, it will house 12,000 Apple employees, 90 percent of whom will be making lengthy commutes to Cupertino and back every day. (San Francisco is 45 miles away.)

To accommodate that, Apple Park features a whopping 9,000 parking spots (presumably the other 3,000 employees will use the private shuttle bus instead). Those 9,000 cars will be an added burden on the region’s traffic problems, as Wired reports, not to mention that whole global carbon pollution thing.

You can read Roger’s full piece here, but the takeaway is simple: With so much money, Apple could have made meaningful improvements to the community — building state-of-the-art mass transit, for example — but chose to make a sparkly, exclusionary statement instead.

[…]

A climate research expedition was halted by … climate change.

There’s been much high-profile gushing over the spaceship-in-Eden–themed campus that Apple spent six years and $5 billion building in Silicon Valley, but it turns out techno-utopias don’t make great neighbors.

“Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general,” writes Adam Rogers at Wired, in an indictment of the company’s approach to transportation, housing, and economics in the Bay Area.

The Ring — well, they can’t call it The Circle — is a solar-powered, passively cooled marvel of engineering, sure. But when it opens, it will house 12,000 Apple employees, 90 percent of whom will be making lengthy commutes to Cupertino and back every day. (San Francisco is 45 miles away.)

To accommodate that, Apple Park features a whopping 9,000 parking spots (presumably the other 3,000 employees will use the private shuttle bus instead). Those 9,000 cars will be an added burden on the region’s traffic problems, as Wired reports, not to mention that whole global carbon pollution thing.

You can read Roger’s full piece here, but the takeaway is simple: With so much money, Apple could have made meaningful improvements to the community — building state-of-the-art mass transit, for example — but chose to make a sparkly, exclusionary statement instead.

[…]

Smartphone case protects your phone, while its built-in sensors help protect your lungs

A new line of modular phone cases includes a 4-in-one “EnviroSensor” that measures air quality, which can help you avoid prolonged exposure to unhealthy environments. […]

Understanding the Role of Silicon (Si) in Plant Growth and Health

Understanding the role of Silicon (Si) in plant growth and how it affects plant health has recently been a subject of substantial research. Experienced growers have always wondered why plants do better in soil as compared to soilless mediums. The difference is likely to be (Si), which is naturally available in soil but not in The post Understanding the Role of Silicon (Si) in Plant Growth and Health appeared first on The Weed Blog. […]

No, Tesla’s solar roof will not cost less than a “regular” roof

In fact, it will cost twenty times as much as a normal roof, which in America is asphalt shingles. […]

On MNN: The maple syrup bubble, soundproofing your apartment, and the library of things

and lessons in management from Renaissance Florence […]