Yet another "World’s tallest timber tower" going up in Norway

It may be treesonous of me to say this, but we should stop this silly competition to be tallest.

If you search TreeHugger you will find eight posts with the words “tallest timber tower“. Here is the latest- an 18 story building in Brumunddal, a small town in Norway.

Brumunddal from water© Moeleven Limtre via Archdaily

When you look at a photograph or Google map of Brumundal, the first thing you might wonder is- why does anyone need an 18 story building here, especially one that is pushing the edge of the technical envelope like this?

The second thing you might wonder is, what happened to Brock Commons at 18 stories, isn’t it the world’s tallest timber tower? Well, no, because evidently the rules, as set by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) that runs the worlds tallest buildings lists, have changed, and it is now calling buildings like Brock Commons “wood-concrete Hybrids” because it has a concrete core of elevators and fire exits instead of being 100 percent wood. It’s not pure enough.

I am wondering if perhaps we are at the point where this competition to be the tallest timber tower is just getting silly, especially when the Scandinavians are brilliant at designing mid-rise buildings that make far more sense in wood.

After meeting Anthony Thistleton and and discussing his Dalston Lanes project, I wrote:

Neither Thistleton or Waugh have much time for the super-tall wood towers that architects are competing to build, and prefer to build mid-rise. I think they are right, that it is a better typology for CLT and wood construction. That’s why I have written that With wood on the rise, it’s time to bring back the Euroloaf. This is what wood buildings want to be.

Writing in Dezeen, Clare Farrow says much the same thing.

In fact, Andrew Waugh’s argument is that we don’t necessarily need to be thinking of wooden skyscrapers in London, however seductive the concept is, but rather of increasing density across the board. He is thinking more in terms of 10-15 storey buildings, which many believe to be the comfortable height for human beings. What is needed, he argues, is a broader political understanding of the potential of engineered timber.

When you watch the arty videos about Mjøstårnet, there is a lot about finding new solutions to old questions, but it never tells us what the questions are. When you read the ArchDaily post, there is a lot about the engineering.

Mjøstårnet has a base width of 16 meters but Abrahamsen believes that it is possible to build taller if this is increased: “It’s mainly the width that determines how tall we may build a timber building. Greater width means the building sways less. A wider building would make it unproblematic to build higher than 100 meters, and even perhaps 150 meters or more….. The main issue in the construction is the lightweight property of the timber frame that can sway up to 140 millimeters at the top when faced with the strong winds of the region. To eliminate this problem, concrete floor slabs will be used on the seven top floors to increase the weight towards the top and slow down the swaying. The building will also be anchored into the ground with piles up to 50 meters deep.

Really, these guys are fighting nature to keep the building upright and in the ground.

Dalston Lane Plan© Waugh Thistleton

Waugh Thistleton had the same problem in London with Dalston Lanes, noting that a problem with such a light building isn’t holding it up, but holding it down. Wind loads become more important. So they designed the building to be low and castle-like, built around courtyards, spread out instead of tall. The form of the building was a reflection of the qualities of the building material. I described it as “the built form that defines great European cities.”

base of building© Moeleven Limtre via Archdaily

Louis Kahn famously asked a brick what it wanted to be, and it apparently responded ‘I like an arch.’ Waugh Thistleton look at the properties of wood, and it wants to be low and wide. Rune Abrahamsen and Voll Arkitekter try to make it tall and skinny and have to load it down with concrete and tie it down with piles. Just because they want to build the world’s tallest building, a title it might hold for a couple of months.

Perhaps we should do a little re-think about this “tallest wood building” thing. Instead, how about designing around the people who live in them and around the nature of the material they are built from, which for hundreds of years has been low and wide rather than tall and thin.

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Going To The Gym Is A Sign of Being Gay, Says Malaysian Newspaper

A Malaysian newspaper has published a gay-spotter’s checklist. It includes things like being a gym member or having a beard as signs of male homosexuality.

The helpful list of hints on how to spot members of the LGBT community has been published in the Malaysian daily newspaper Sinar Harian, alongside a piece featuring Islamic cleric Hanafiah Malik deploring the rise of homosexuality, which many Muslims consider sinful, in the south-east Asian country.

“[They] like going to the gym but not for exercising, but to ogle others,” reads one of the bullet points, adding that gay men have a penchant for beards and branded clothes and that their eyes light up when they see a handsome slice of beefcake.

Hugging, holding hands, being alone and talking disparagingly about men, meanwhile, are a sure-fire way of telling someone is a lesbian, according to the guide.

Homosexuality is still illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia due to a British colonial-era law, and can be punished with up to 20 years in prison. LGBT people, along with liberal and Shia Muslims, are seen as a threat by Malaysia’s Sunni conservatives such as Hanafiah Malik, who told the newspaper there is an urgent need to stop the “rise” of homosexuality.

The preacher also said that “khunsa,” or hermaphrodites, should allowed to undergo surgery to have one of their sets of genitals removed.

The Sinar Harian article was not welcomed by everyone, however. Arwind Kumar, one of Malaysia’s biggest social media stars, ripped into the article on YouTube.

“I know a lot of priests, I know a lot ustads [Islamic scholars], I know a lot of really, really religious people who love keeping beards. Are you trying to say they are gay? That’s how stupid this whole article sounds,” he said.

“If you really want to educate society then explain to them the traits of a pedophile, a molester, a murderer, a kidnapper, people who actually endanger the lives of others. How the hell does a gay person endanger your life?”



image source: © PeopleImages / Getty Images

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Are dockless bike-shares going to begrime our cities?

A lot of people are complaining about bikes being left everywhere. They are wrong; this is the future.

Remember when Citibikes begrimed New York City for the first time, and residents complained that they were losing much needed street parking to bike stations and co-ops complained that scruffy Citibike users were lallygagging around their lobbies? Good times.

Now, poor Dorothy Rabinowitz can complain about the begriming of cities around the world by dockless bike-share systems. She won’t be alone; a lot of people are worried about this, including experts like Mikael Colville-Andersen.

Unlike the Bixi/Citibike systems, there are no docking stations; each bike has its own GPS and cellular connection. A user with the app on their phone simply takes a shot of the QR code on the bike it unlocks, and you ride away. When you get to your destination, just lock the bike and leave it. No need to search for a station with an open slot; just park it anywhere. And they often are anywhere and everywhere.

Unlike most urban bike shares, there is little municipal involvement in these, and no subsidies. Instead, bikes are being dropped by the thousands by private companies backed by lots of venture capital. In China, they are taking over the cities, with 1.5 million bikes in Shanghai alone. Writing in Wired, Felix Salmon thinks they are a wonderful thing, great for short distances downtown. He notes that there has been bit of chaos, with bikes piled everywhere, at the bottom of canals and the top of trees. But he is optimistic and convinced that they will be transformative:

Large-scale urban changes, then, are for the first time being made in the most democratic and human-scaled way imaginable. The driving force is not urban planners or all-powerful property developers; rather, it’s thousands of people on bikes, each making individual, idiosyncratic decisions… Move over, city planners: A few million bicyclists are going to have the kind of impact you can only dream of.

In London, Former TreeHugger contributor Matt Sparkes, who now speaks for Ofo, hasn’t seen these problems. He tells Martin Love of the Guardian:

“We’ve had very few thefts,” he says. “And riders are remarkably tidy, too. You can leave them anywhere, but users tend to park them up next to other bikes.” What about vandalism? People like to break things just because they can. But Matt says there have been very few incidents. “We had one thrown off a bridge in Cambridge.”

Others see a “tragedy of the commons”, described by Dominic Rushe in the Guardian as “the economic theory that individuals using a shared resource often act according to their own interests and to the detriment of the shared resource…With bikes literally littering the street, riders become less mindful of how they treat the bikes and where they leave them when there is always another to pick up.”

A lot of people (including this writer) think that the aesthetic problem of too many bikes begriming the streets is a bit silly, given the number of cars that people leave on sidewalks and in bike lanes. But some of the companies are trying to deal with this; Toronto’s pilot dockless scheme, Dropbike, is promoting Havens, which are like docking stations without the docking equipment.

It’s indefensible to shrug as bikes clutter up sidewalks and end up in weird places — companies must be involved in organizing shared bikes. Since spring, Havens have been Dropbike’s unique solution to the chaos of dockless bike sharing… The Havens system retains the organization of a docked model with the affordability of a dockless system. Havens are the best of both worlds.

Except online the docking station, the use of a haven is optional. And there are other worries; Angie Schmitt of Streetsblog has major concerns.

It’s easy to dismiss this crankiness as a fussy double standard that people never apply to the illegally parked cars littering city sidewalks, crosswalks, and bus stops. But there are bigger questions about the venture-funded dockless bike-share model that go deeper than the propriety of where the bikes are parked.

She quotes one study finding that 12 percent of the bikes had “major defects,” like damaged brakes or missing lights, which pose safety hazards.” She notes that nobody is really releasing data on the number of trips: “Insisting on a basic level of trip data transparency should be a core demand from any city before allowing the companies to operate.” The companies are all burning through venture capital now, and probably not making any money. Schmitt worries about the success and survival of these companies, concluding:

It’s possible — maybe even likely — that some of the venture-backed bike-share companies will emerge as viable in the long run, providing useful urban mobility services. How much should cities bet on that?

Perhaps I am a cockeyed optimist, but I believe that this can actually work. When Paris got its first Velib bikes, there were endless stories about vandalism and pulling bikes out of the Seine. But the vandals all got bored and you don’t hear many of those stories anymore; the few jerks have become an acceptable cost of doing business. As dockless bike shares find their balance of users and bikes, and they just become part of the background, I suspect the same thing might happen.

There are those who look at the problems and say this is why we can’t have nice things because jerks will always come and wreck it. But in general, jerks are a small subset of the population and a cost of doing business. I often quote my favorite tweet in the history of twitter from Taras Grescoe:

grescoeTaras Grescoe/Screen capture

Felix Salmon writes that “Bikes plus smartphones, then, might just be enough to usher in a new golden age for cities.” The dockless bike share is an ingenious combination of 19th and 21st century technology that just might be what we are looking for.

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It Sure Sounds Like The US Is Actually Going To Bomb North Korea

During his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, Donald Trump pledged the United States would continue its campaign of maximum pressure” against North Korea. Meanwhile, the Washington Post ran an opinion piece written by the man who was, until recently, set to become the U.S. ambassador to South Korea.

Victor Cha, a professor at Georgetown University and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, had reportedly passed all U.S. security checks, and South Korea had signed off on him.

It was expected — and for the government in Seoul, hoped — that Trump would soon formally nominate Cha for Senate approval. But over the weekend, it was reported that the White house informed Cha he was no longer being considered for the post.

Sources say the move was motivated by Cha’s disagreement with the Trump administration’s policy on North Korea. In particular, these sources say, the would-be ambassador took issue with the White House considering a preemptive strike against the Hermit Kingdom.

Writing for the Washington Post on Tuesday, Cha stated that the answer to the North Korean question “is not, as some Trump administration officials have suggested, a preventive military strike.”

Rather, Cha wrote, there are options available to address the threat “without escalating into a war that would likely kill tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Americans.”

Cha, who previously served in the administration of George W. Bush, wrote that he expressed his concerns over North Korea policy while he was being considered for the Seoul ambassadorship.

The Georgetown professor went on to question the logic of the “bloody nose” strategy, meant to shock leader Kim Jong-un and make him think twice about his nuclear ambitions:

“If we believe that Kim is undeterrable without such a strike, how can we also believe that a strike will deter him from responding in kind? And if Kim is unpredictable, impulsive and bordering on irrational, how can we control the escalation ladder, which is premised on an adversary’s rational understanding of signals and deterrence?”

Cha noted that on any given day, there are around 230,000 Americans in South Korea and another 90,000 in neighboring Japan. He pointed out that if North Korea were to retaliate against a preemptive strike, those citizens “would most likely have to hunker down until the war was over.”

He also noted that unlike Japan, South Korea lacks sufficient missile defense systems to counter a barrage of artillery from the North, meaning Americans there, as well as millions of South Koreans, would be vulnerable:

“To be clear: The president would be putting at risk an American population the size of a medium-size U.S. city — Pittsburgh, say, or Cincinnati — on the assumption that a crazy and undeterrable dictator will be rationally cowed by a demonstration of U.S. kinetic power.”

Regardless of such warnings, Trump remained adamant that the Kim regime poses a substantial threat to the U.S. while speaking before Congress on Tuesday. After claiming his administration has been tough on authoritarian nations, Trump zeroed in on North Korea in his State of the Union Address:

“But no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea. North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland. We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from ever happening.”

Continuing, the president suggested the U.S. “need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and to our allies.”

This aspect of the president’s State of the Union Address — Trump’s focus on the character of North Korea as opposed to the country’s nuclear weapons program — already has some speculating that the White House may be preparing for actual war.

Writing for The Atlantic, Peter Beinart noted that Trump’s telling of the story of Otto Warmbier, the American arrested in North Korea who died shortly after his return to the U.S., as well as that of North Korean defector Ji Seong Ho, may have been an attempt to “rouse moral indignation” ahead of the outbreak of war.

Writing for The Intercept on Wednesday, Jon Schwarz made a different connection. He pointed out that in Trump’s speech, many of his stated justifications for war with North Korea were “frighteningly familiar” to those given by President George W. Bush during the lead-up to war with Iraq in 2003.

Further, a source speaking to Anti-Media on the condition of anonymity with knowledge of U.S. Naval activities told us preparations have begun for military conflict in East Asia over the coming months.




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‘I’m going to ruin his life lol’: Teen the latest victim of false rape accusation and police disclosure failings

handcuffed man


A teen accused of rape spent three months in custody because police did not disclose texts that proved his innocence. His alleged victim wrote in one message: “I’m not just going to mess his life up, I’m going to ruin it lol.”

Connor Fitzgerald, 19, had the rape charge against him thrown out when prosecutors discovered the texts. Fitzgerald, of South Norwood in south London, lost his job as a BT engineer because of the claim.

The charges were dropped at Croydon Crown Court last week when it emerged that the complainant, who will have lifelong anonymity, had sent texts threatening to destroy him.

Comment: Why doesn’t the complaintant have to suffer the repercussions of a false rape accusation?

“It’s been heart-breaking – It felt like I was guilty until proven innocent,” he told the Sun. “My life has been ruined. I’m scared to even leave the house because everyone thinks I’m a rapist.”

The case is the latest in a string of investigations and trials that have collapsed after police failed to disclose vital evidence to defence lawyers. Fitzgerald’s case comes after the Metropolitan Police were forced to apologize to Liam Allan, 22, for failing to provide crucial text messages during his rape trial, in which he was found not guilty.

Police have admitted that no one will be disciplined over Allan’s botched prosecution. Allan, a criminology student at Greenwich University in London, spent two years on bail accused of rape and sexual assault.

Fitzgerald was arrested in front of his mother and sister in November when police officers raided his home. It followed a complaint that a woman made in June. She alleged Fitzgerald had raped her after a drunken night out.

After the arrest, he was denied bail and was held on remand at HMP High Down, a category-B prison in Banstead, Surrey.

He was reprieved after Fitzgerald’s brother found some of the text messages from the woman on his iCloud account and informed the authorities. Missing texts also showed the woman saying that she had enjoyed the sex.

Fitzgerald says he plans to sue the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). “If my brother hadn’t found the texts, I’d have ended up in prison for 12 years or more,” he said.

Earlier this month, a case against Oxford University student Oliver Mears, 19, from Horley, Surrey, was dropped just days before his trial after a “new set of eyes” re-examined the CPS rape case against him.

He was on track to become a successful scientist before being arrested on suspicion of raping and indecently assaulting a woman at a party in July 2015. Mears’ lawyers had complained about a failure to produce appropriate social media evidence, which they believe could have proven the defendant’s innocence.

The case of Samson Makele, 28, was also halted at Snaresbrook Crown Court earlier this month after his defense team unearthed key images from his mobile phone, which had not previously been made available, law firm Hodge Jones and Allen said.

Thousands of rape prosecutions are now being re-examined to see if they have been affected by errors. In London alone, 600 rape cases currently in the final stages before trial are being re-assessed.

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Artificial Intelligence Is Going to Supercharge Surveillance

Artificial Intelligence Is Going to Supercharge Surveillance

January 29th, 2018

Via: The Verge:

Artificial intelligence is giving surveillance cameras digital brains to match their eyes, letting them analyze live video with no humans necessary. This could be good news for public safety, helping police and first responders more easily spot crimes and accidents and have a range of scientific and industrial applications. But it also raises serious questions about the future of privacy and poses novel risks to social justice.

What happens when governments can track huge numbers of people using CCTV? When police can digitally tail you around a city just by uploading your mugshot into a database? Or when a biased algorithm is running on the cameras in your local mall, pinging the cops because it doesn’t like the look of a particular group of teens?




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A CE Podcast About The Face on Mars & Strange Structures on The Moon – What’s Going On Up There?

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We (Joe Martino, Founder of CE & Arjun Walia, Senior Writer) recently sat down and did a podcast (access our  our podcasts here and our Explorers Lounge here) with Ananda Sirisena, who is currently employed by a major software company as a senior training consultant. On top of that, he is a long-time Mars researcher and UFO investigator who has been interested in the subject of extra-terrestrial life since childhood. He is, without a doubt, one of the world’s foremost scholars on the topic, which is evident by the number of papers he’s authored and co-authored that’ve appeared in multiple peer-reviewed journals.

The most recent example is a new study that was published in the Journal of Space Exploration titled “The Mounds of Cydonia: Elegant Geology, or Tetrahedral Geometry and Reactions of Pythagoras and Dirac” A study that’s added to the already robust evidence pointing to “artificial surface interventions” on Mars, as the study states. The main premise of the article is that these structures, if indeed artificial, “provide an elegant and concise way for an intelligent species to transmit to another intelligence evidence that it understands the basics of tetrahedral geometry, prime numbers, and the quantum mechanics of the electrons spin, thereby giving additional evidence for the possibility of intelligent intervention.”

You can read more about that in depth here. 

Another recently published a paper in the Journal of Space Exploration by him and his co authors explores certain features on the far side of the moon that appear in the crater Paracelsus C. Titled “Image Analysis of Unusual Structures on the Far Side of the Moon in the Crater Paracelsus C,” it argues that these features might be artificial in origin, meaning someone other than a human being built them and put them there.

You can read more about that in depth here.

We discussed these papers, among many others things, including a very memorable UFO sighting he had in his past – and more.

Sirisena is a member of the Society For Planetary SETI research, and you can view a list of all of his work, not listed above, here.

You can view all of our other podcasts we’ve completed so far here on iTunes


Videos & Related CE Articles You Might Be Interested In

Below you’ll find a couple of videos made by Ananda, and below that some more CE articles that you might be interested in reading.

Ex NASA Astronaut & Princeton Physics Professor Says His Colleague Carl Sagan Fudged Evidence of Extraterrestrial Beings  & The Face on Mars

Ex NASA Scientists Share Concealed Information About The Face & Pyramid On Mars

Faking The Moon Landing Isn’t The Conspiracy, It’s What Really Happened When We Got There

The United States Tried To Detonate A Nuclear Weapon On The Moon – And Somebody Responded When We Did

New Study On Unusual Structures on Far Side of the Moon That Could Be Extraterrestrial in Origin

To read all of our articles on the topic of UFOs & Extraterrestrials, you can visit the exopolitics section of our website here.


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Teacher who nearly died from a heart attack 10 years ago is off all meds after going vegan – now he is inspiring others

Image: Teacher who nearly died from a heart attack 10 years ago is off all meds after going vegan – now he is inspiring others

(Natural News)
Heart diseases are the most common causes of human mortality in the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 610,000 people die of heart diseases in the U.S. every year. Caused by poor food choices and a sedentary lifestyle, heart disease is the pandemic of the modern world. Given this devastating chronic disease, what treatments should be done to stop or reverse its symptoms? Modern medicine has not provided a solution for this yet, but a shift in lifestyle choices including food and physical activity may reverse the symptoms of heart disease. A 59-year old man who had a heart attack a decade ago shares how he stopped taking heart medications after switching to a plant-based diet.

Doug Schmidt, a former professional baker with a particularly sweet tooth, had a widowmaker heart attack (a complete closure of the left anterior coronary artery) in 2008 because of his poor diet that consisted of large slabs of meat for dinner and ice cream right before bed. After that, doctors put him on lifelong heart medication advising him that it would keep him well off future heart attacks, but ultimately, not heal his heart. Schmidt decided to turn his whole life around and not just rely on the medications. He switched from meats and ice cream to eating just vegetables and grains, which reduced his weight from 225 pounds to 165 pounds. Just last year, he decided to start exercising due to the excess energy he gets from his nutritious diet. Since then, he no longer takes his heart medications.

Schmidt, a teacher as well, decided to start a food challenge where students and teachers pledged to eat a plant-based diet for 10 days. On the fourth day of launching the challenge, almost 1,300 students, teachers, and administrators from 36 schools in the district signed up. The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), calls him the “Sexiest Vegan over 50,” awarding him with a “vegan cruise” with his wife to the Caribbean due next month. Their children are now starting to slowly adapt to their healthy lifestyle.

The transition to veganism wasn’t perfect though, since he states that he started out eating veggie burgers and fake cheese. However, they moved on to better, whole, and natural foods that makes him feel better than what vegan food corporations produce. He also tips that going vegan shouldn’t be expensive, since rice and beans can cost significantly lower than a pound of sirloin. Snacks, according to him, can be as simple as roasted potatoes with mustard dip.

Going vegan may not be for everyone, but adding more fruits and vegetable to your diet helps stave off the pounds and the unwanted chronic diseases. Diets like the Mediterranean diet provide good examples of a good balance between plant-based and animal-based food. In this diet, red meat isn’t illegal, but is rarely eaten, limited to three-ounce portions. However, you can still eat poultry, eggs, cheeses, and yogurt in moderation.

Keep in mind that there is no single diet that will suit everyone. While some may want to avoid animal-based food, some enjoy its taste. Forcing your family to undergo a specific diet isn’t healthy, and may produce unwanted results, especially if it isn’t recommended by a health professional. To identify what kind of diet your body and your family’s body needs, make sure to consult with your family health expert.

For more stories about the health benefits of raw food, visit


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