Contest designers should show bigger is not better

first_imgLos Angeles City planners have big plans for small lots. Free money is included, too. This is a noble vision, since it may help more low- to moderate-income families own their own homes. Now the city’s Planning Department, which created the ordinance last year, is partnering with the Enterprise Foundation to infuse new life into substandard parcels. They are sponsoring a “Small Lots, Smart Design” competition in South Los Angeles, a baby step that could spread throughout the city, including the San Fernando Valley. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Builders and architects are being asked to submit a vision for a 6,298-square-foot lot at 624 W. 84th St. owned by Enterprise Home Ownership Partners, a nonprofit group that’s trying to increase affordable housing in the city. Applicants should think big. Ivee Stassi, the competition administrator, said that in its last life, this was the site of a substandard house that was demolished. It no longer will be a place where just one family will live. “What we’re setting is an opportunity for (the contestants) to look at the small lot and then decide how many units can go into that property…maximize the living space as well as the land,” she said. The winner will get paid a design commission and two families will get a home. There likely won’t be any losers, either. Enterprise owns 11 lots like this one in South and East Los Angeles and is planning 92 townhomes. Stassi said she hopes enough good designs are submitted so that her group can put together a catalog other builders can use for small infill projects. Enterprise is looking for designs offering comfortable living spaces both inside and out while putting as many units on a small lot as possible. It’s one small step on the first rung of the economic ladder. Stassi said that the owners of these kinds of homes tend to be blue-collar families of five with an average annual income of $45,000. The home on this lot will probably cost about $325,000. And here is the free money hook. Prospective buyers for any of Enterprise townhomes can apply to a “soft second” mortgage program offered by the city, Stassi said. It can total $90,000 plus 6 percent of the sales price and there are no payments due for 30 years, she said. Buyers must live in the homes for at least three years. Planning department spokesman Jane Blumenfeld said that the small lots concept is gaining traction. Planners and developers meet each Wednesday to discuss how to best use the ordinance and so far about 50 proposals have been considered. “There are a number of South L.A. projects, which has been really great. It’s been hard to get homeownership opportunities in South L.A.” she said. The ordinance enables detached townhouse style structures to be built on land zoned for either commercial or multifamily residences, Blumenfeld noted. Stephen Bock, owner of Calabasas-based D&S Development, which specializes in infill development, says that this is a good idea. He’s probably going to enter the contest, too. He also notes that small lot sizes will reduce land costs, which can help moderate the selling price of these types of units. And it won’t create as dense a feel as condos because the homes won’t share common walls. “Hey, here is something the city is going to do to really help bottom line housing in L.A. because builders will start building these small lot projects;,” he said. More information about the contest can be found at www.smallbutsmart.org. Design applications are due Feb. 28. Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743 greg.wilcox@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Humans Excel at… Please Wait… Patience

first_imgHere’s another thing that distinguishes humans from animals: patience.  Current Biology usually has a “Quick Guide” feature on some aspect of biology.  In the latest issue, patience was the patient.  First of all, what is it?Humans and other animals often make decisions that trade off present and future benefits.  Should a monkey eat an unripe fruit or wait for it to ripen?  Should I purchase the iPhone at its debut or wait for the price to drop in a few months?  In these dilemmas, large gains often require long waits, so decision makers must choose between a smaller, sooner reward and a larger, later reward.Animals experience these tradeoffs all the time, particularly when foraging for food.  A Clark’s nutcracker (a Western bird) can, for instance, store 33,000 seeds for later consumption, “that is 33,000 decisions to delay gratification.”  But being impulsive can have its payoffs, too.  “He who hesitates is lost,” a proverb says.  If you don’t snatch at the seed in front of you, it could fall into the river.    Following several questions and answers about patience (how it is measured, how animals measure up, etc.) came the question of interest to the human animal: “Are humans uniquely patient?”The most extreme examples of nonhuman animal patience pale in comparison to the levels of patience seen in humans.  Rather than waiting for only seconds or minutes, humans will wait days, weeks, months or even years for gains.  Is this a true cognitive divide?  The answer is yes and no.  In one sense, comparing the human and nonhuman experimental work is like comparing apples and oranges because the methodologies differ so greatly.  Repeated choices with all real rewards and time delays may yield different results from one-shot choices with hypothetical rewards and delays.  When tested in a manner similar to other animals, human subjects look similar to (or sometimes even more impulsive than!) chimpanzees.    Thus, in certain situations humans show similar levels of patience as other primates.  Yet, clearly situations exist in which humans are much more patient than other animals.  It is difficult to imagine even chimpanzees investing in the future in a way comparable to depositing money into a retirement account 30-40 years before receiving a return.  Nonetheless, we know that, for instance, many species show impressive abilities for future planning.  Western scrub jays can plan for their breakfast in the morning.  Monkeys and apes, especially chimpanzees, strategically invest in relationships with group members to climb the political ladder of their dominance hierarchies.  Though these species lack the complex language and symbolic systems (such as money and legal contracts) that allow humans to work over vast temporal horizons, they do demonstrate a flexible means of dealing with the future.  Perhaps the recent surge in interest in animal patience will tell us whether long-term patience is a uniquely human virtue.In short, put your money into an IRA instead of investing in a Monkey Bank. 1.  Jeffrey R. Stevens and David W. Stephens, “Quick Guide: Patience,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 1, 8 January 2008, Pages R11-R12.They missed the whole point.  Human patience is a virtue, not a trait.  The fact that animals (and humans) may have instincts that work in a raw-biological context tells us nothing about the rationality and virtue behind human patience.  If it were merely instinctive, it would not require training and education and conscious choice.  If it were a biological trait, we would not see so many exceptions.    Humans have the capacity for long-term gratification because we were made in the image of God.  That is the only explanation that makes sense for the ability to wait for payoff for decades, or a lifetime.  That is what explains parents denying their gratification for the sake of their children, so that they will be able to have opportunities they never had.  And that is what enables a soul to deny itself till death for a joy in a future life, following the example of Christ, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).    We are animals, but we are not mere animals.  All theists recognize we are rational animals; it’s not like they believe humans float above the ground.  We have stomachs and sex organs and biological urges like the rest of biology.  That curious blend of body and soul is what makes our lives so interesting and challenging.  We were made for an unseen reality that can override our natural urges.  That is why we have need of patience.  That is why we are admonished to “consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (v.3).    Having a biological propensity like the animals to weigh the costs and benefits of immediate vs delayed gratification does in no way diminish the unique capacity of humans for patience, nor does a listing of the misdeeds of impulsive or diseased individuals who act only according to their animal natures.  Indeed, try to imagine a chimpanzee investing in an IRA for 40 years.  Without a soul, with its rational capacity for language, choice and wisdom, such capabilities would be unexplainable.  Current biology demonstrates it.(Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Natalie inspires in Beijing

first_img20 August 2008 MeritDu Toit, though, told reporters: “I don’t want anything free. For me it was important to actually qualify on merit. Now that she has achieved that goal, Du Toit will no doubt quietly set her sights on winning a medal at London in 2012. Du Toit booked her place in the Olympic Games by finishing fourth – just five seconds behind the winner, Larisa Ilchenko of Russia – in the 10-kilometre event at the World Open Water Swimming Championships in Seville in May. Du Toit had her left leg amputated below the knee after a motorcycle accident in 2001. At the time, she was one of South Africa’s leading swimmers and had narrowly failed to qualify for the Olympic Games in Sydney the previous year. The South African’s disappointment with her Olympic result reflects her mindset, which doesn’t allow her to consider herself as someone with a disability; because she competes against able-bodied athletes, no allowances are made for her disability. Johannesburg-born Keri-Anne Payne, a three-time winner of the Midmar Mile and the silver medallist in Beijing, called Du Toit “incredibly strong” and “an amazing role model”. GoalWithin a few months of leaving hospital she was back in the swimming pool, always with the goal of swimming in the Olympic Games, something which she had wanted to do since the age of six. “I’ve gone out there, I’ve done my best. I’ve still got the Paralympics (next month), so I still have to keep focused. I could only do that on the day, and that was my best.” After Wednesday’s race she confirmed she would be aiming to qualify for the Olympics again. It seems as if she has been around for ever, but Du Toit is 24 years of age and 28 years of age, which she will be four years from now, is a good age for a long-distance swimmer. Top fiveAfter the amazing result in Spain, Du Toit was hoping for at least a top-five finish in Beijing. She stuck close to the leaders for most of the race, but fell off the pace near the end to finish in 16th place, this time more than a minute behind Ilchenko, who carried her form through to win Olympic gold. Positive messageFollowing her race in Beijing, Du Toit said she gave it her all. As she has done throughout her career, she provided a positive message by encouraging all people – able-bodied and disabled – to work hard, set goals, and never give up.center_img Reflecting on making it to the Olympic Games, she said: “You don’t have to be the champion. You don’t have to be the best. But if you reach that dream, that’s the realisation that’s important to you.” Bronze medallist Cassie Patten, third in the 2006 Midmar Mile, added: “It just shows what you can do if you put your mind to it.” The Beijing Paralympics start on 7 September, and Du Toit is sure to be one of the stars of the show; in 2004, in the Athens Paralympics, she won five gold medals, with four of her victories coming in world record time. Natalie du Toit made history when she took to the water in the women’s 10-kilometre open water swim at the Olympic Games in Beijing on Wednesday. The South African became the first amputee, along with Polish table tennis player Natalia Partyka, to take on able-bodied athletes in the biggest sporting event of them all. The race winner, Larisa Ilchenko, told a press conference: “”I’d go so far as to award her a separate medal. I have enormous respect for her. It is exceedingly hard. Just looking at these people inspires you.” Her favourite saying, which can be found on her website, reads: In Partyka’s case, her right arm ends just below the elbow, but she plays left-handed. In Du Toit’s case, she is missing her left leg below the knee and must thus do without the propulsion that the left leg provides other swimming competitors with. “The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals; The tragedy of life lies in not having goals to reach for. It is not a disgrace not to reach for the stars, But it is a disgrace not to have stars to reach for.” PraiseThe other open water competitors were full of praise for South Africa’s flagbearer. Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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