North America’s spectacular skylines: a 23-city time lapse

For all of their problems and failures, North America really does have some beautiful cities with spectacular skylines. Mitchell Hadden, a videographer based in one of those cities, Cleveland, created this awesome time lapse video of 23 of those cities—including one in Canada—with images he shot during his travels with Fox Sports over the past year. Check it out:

h/t CBS News

Tragedy visualized

A friend on Facebook pointed me to this video. When I read that the film’s 15 minutes were “well worth my time,” I scoffed a little. But I was waiting for a business call, so I figured why not kill some time. “Well worth it” proved to be right.

This is a beautiful and compelling visualization of the military and civilian deaths caused by World War II—stunning both in its visuals and in the sheer numbers killed. The first and largest part of the film details the mind-boggling human cost of the war: the toll of military combat in both the European and Pacific theaters as well as the loss of civilian life from military action, the Holocaust, and other war crimes. The second half puts WWII in the context of other military conflicts throughout history and discusses the relative peace in the world today, at least in terms of an individual’s likelihood of being killed in war.

It’s the work of Neil Halloran and accompanies his site fallen.io, which he describes as “an interactive documentary that examines the human cost of the second World War and the decline in battle deaths in the years since the war.” The site includes interactive visualizations of the data. Also on the site you can pay a “ticket price” as a contribution to support the project (the suggested ticket price is $2.50, which is a bargain at any cinema these days).

The numbers are staggering, and no one has probably ever created a more compelling visualization of them. And Mr. Halloran will be one to watch; with talent like this, I certainly expect to see his work again.

Rush hour in The Netherlands

Back when I was a student in The Netherlands, some of my Dutch classmates took me to a soccer game one evening, a match between Nijmegen’s hometown N.E.C. and NAC Breda. We got to the match on pretty much the only mode college students in Holland would use for such an event: our bikes. Night had already fallen by the time we arrived at the stadium, and some police officers directed us to where we could park our bikes. I struck up a brief conversation with them, hitting on the fact that I was an American student studying at Nijmegen’s Radboud University. They asked me what I liked most about their country. I gave them an answer that was perhaps not at the top of my list—that would probably be the Dutch people’s greatest gift to mankind, vla—but certainly on up there. And it was fitting for the situation: that I could ride my bike everywhere.

Now I live in New York. I have a bike. And I don’t ride it nearly as often as I would like. Part of it is that I’m usually a stay-at-home dad, and it’s tough to take kids on bikes everywhere I need or want to go. But even when I’m by myself, biking in NYC is intimidating. Despite the tremendous strides this and other U.S. cities have made in building bike infrastructure, it pales in comparison to that of our Dutch counterparts. And it shows, too, in the number of people who actually ride bikes. We can talk about the numbers and modal share. But I always tell people that they should see rush hour in The Netherlands. And, thanks to the miracle of the internet and, especially, that miracle of miracles called YouTube, you can see it for yourself. Here’s video of rush hour in Utrecht, a city in the heart of The Netherlands. (Rush hour in Nijmegen and most other Dutch cities looks much the same.)

In case you’re wondering, Nijmegen won after two rounds of overtime and a shootout.

Foggy Vancouver

This time-lapse video of Vancouver, British Columbia, has some of the coolest imagery of fog that I’ve ever seen (seriously, you’ve never seen fog like this).

I was pointed to this video by Aaron M. Renn, also known as the Urbanophile. If you don’t follow his blog, you should. Lots of cool time lapses as well as much more about the state of America’s (and the world’s) cities.