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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Conforming to reality

For decades now, the geniuses on the Portland City Council -- aided and abetted by the city's huge "planning" bureaucracy, the Goldschmidt people at Metro, Earl the Pearl, and the urban studies bobbleheads at Portland State -- have been playing "Sim City" with what was once a highly livable place. Their basic game plan has been to hand the city over to real estate weasels who build apartment bunkers, all the while bleating "green," sustainability, density, Barcelona, etc.

Of course, this isn't a computer game -- it's real life. And the results of all the game-playing have not been good -- a far less livable place, devoid of any real economy, with no serious positive prospects in sight. Local government's now insolvent. But oh, those shiny trains!

Anyway, now the folks at IBM have made it official -- they've devised an actual "Sim City" game for the planning mafia to use. And of course, the naive children in city government are drooling over the chance to play with it. As long as the results are what guys like Edlen and Homer want to hear, kids, it should be perfect.

Comments (21)

"By overcoming silos in the way we think...."

That's my mighty flowery puffery. Unless one really does have silage for brains. (sigh)

You said it Zeb, "silage for brains".
The end is near....

Funny: nobody talks about how well real science works to warn us about Sam and his flunkies:


The headline says it all.

While reading the first sentence of the PR release, I could feel the bile coming up from my stomach.

The problem with computer modeling anything, is that if even one of your input values is incorrect, all of your output will be incorrect.

Anyone care to lay odds that the planners at PBOT and the Office of Sustainability will be putting in the proper information?

Short version: Garbage in, garbage out. At least if you get a consultant from PriceWaterhouse Cooper, they can take a look for themselves, or ask the right questions.

I can save the City the time and effort by telling them the results now:

Everything you do makes traffic worse.

Actually the last version of the actual SimCity computer game was a decent lesson in city planning. Everytime I tried to alleviate traffic by building a monorail or train in my cities I was fairly unsuccessful, though building additional bus stops or larger roads seemed to be more effective.

At least with SimCity, there was a limit on how much money you could borrow to build your mega transportation projects, and you were forced to actually build out and generate revenue before you could build highways and railroads.

Here in Portland there seems to be no limit on how much the city wants to borrow...

When I used to play simcity 4, I downloaded this little hack called a "money tree" that was an actual tree that you planted and it generated $1,000,000 every month... but you had to delete it after a couple of years or it would crash the game (true story)

I wonder if they considered opening the transportation market, or simplifying the permit process for starting a business or building a home, maybe getting rid of zoning?

C'mon, the more they can de-humanize the process the more they can avoid those charettes where they ignore any opinion that they don't like.

Now if they can adapt Leisure Suit Larry to building planning - Count me in!!!

This image of Donald Sutherland pointing and hissing from Invasion of the Body Snatchers comes to mind when you speak this sort of heresy against the planning Matrix.

I think they got the game's name wrong. It's called You Don't Know Jack.

Actually, I think we have a simulator that would work very well to describe Portland's situation. Rename it "Drink the Kool-Aid," and it'll be a huge hit.

"When I used to play simcity 4, I downloaded this little hack called a "money tree" that was an actual tree that you planted and it generated $1,000,000 every month... but you had to delete it after a couple of years or it would crash the game (true story)"

Yeah, I remember that cheat. Unfortunately, the PDC used to play SimCity4 that way too and was disapointed to find out that it didn't work out that way in real life.

It's so old and so simple. The acronym is GIGO. Garbage In = Garbage Out.

The problem in common with computer simulation and masturbation is that if you engage in either for too long you tend to forget what the original goal really was.

Guys...Don't you see it?

Everybody has been wondering, now we have an inkling.

Our little Sammy got a job with IBM.


I too, long for those golden years when the Highway 99 expressway, aka Harbor Drive barreled through the west side waterfront, matching the east side freeway desert given to us by I-5. I really liked Pioneer Courthouse Square better when it was a parking lot. I was so looking forward to the Mt. Hood Freeway instead of all those stupid toy trains. I much preferred jaywalking on the Steel Bridge train tracks instead of using that stupid pedestrian bridge. I really enjoyed the smell of industrial waste in the beloved Willamette Sewer, er, I mean "river," before most of it got cleaned up.

Wow. Gordon would you like go for a nice swim in the Willamette anywhere between Burnside Bridge and Sellwood Bridge. Because the water is still really filthy. But maybe you've never actually gotten into a small boat (kayak in my case) and gotten up close and personal. The toy trains are stupid when they ruin the system for bus riders who need Tri-Met. Go stand on SW Vermont this weekend and try just try to catch a bus.

I think this is the wrong target for anti-planner ridicule. This software and the INDEX tool by Criterion, too, are examples of cheap, easy, and flexible solutions that can make planning more responsive to measurable goals and criteria and less apt to lean on vague plannerese. That sounds like an advertisement, I guess, but I would think the crowd here would welcome the introduction of more efficient and better research in planning. Certainly, the GIGO concern is always relevant in data-driven research, especially when you don't trust the source, but these tools themselves are positives, IMO.

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