Software developer at a big library, cyclist, photographer, hiker, reader. Email: chris@improbable.org
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Machu Picchu was built over major fault zones. Now, researchers think they know why | Science | AAAS

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Archaeologists and architects alike have long wondered why 15th century Incans built the grand citadel of Machu Picchu where they did, high in the remote Andes atop a narrow ridge in what is now Peru. One simple answer, researchers now suggest, is that that's where building materials for the site—large amounts of already fractured rock—were readily available.

Both satellite images and recent field work reveal that the ground beneath Machu Picchu is crisscrossed with fault zones of various sizes, some of which control the orientation of river valleys in the region by providing weak zones that are more easily eroded by flowing water. Because some of these faults run from northeast to southwest and others trend from northwest to southeast, they collectively create an X where they intersect beneath the site, researchers reported this week at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Phoenix.

When earthquakes along these fault zones cause rocks to shift, they generate prodigious quantities of fractured rock (large stones in foreground). But these fault zones also channel meltwater from ice and snow and rainwater, thus enabling residents to more effectively collect it. They also help drain it away during intense thunderstorms, preventing short-term damage and aiding long-term preservation of the site.

Further evidence that the site selection for Machu Picchu may not have been an accident: Similar analyses reveal other ancient Incan sites, including Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Cusco were also built at the intersections of fault zones.

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Unmasked NYPD Officers Remove Subway Rider After He Confronts Them - The New York Times

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acdha
1 hour ago
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Pretty sure the NYPD rioted most of last summer to establish that they are in fact above the law
Washington, DC

my employee wasn't respectful enough after the company messed up her paycheck — Ask a Manager

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A reader writes:

I’m not comfortable with one of my new staff members and how overconfident she is. Her work is great and she needed very little training but she’s got very big britches.

“Jane” has only been with us for two months. Just today she asked for a meeting with me and our payroll manager. It turns out payroll made an error entering her direct deposit information that resulted in Jane not getting paid, not once but two times.

Our company requires potential candidates to complete sample assignments during the interview process and we pay them an hourly contractor rate. It turns out she didn’t get paid for her assignment period, or for the next full pay cycle. The payroll employee apologized directly to Jane in an email, because it was their error in entering her information and not following up/fixing it that resulted in Jane not getting paid. Jane was able to show emails back and forth where she checked in with the payroll employee and asked if it was fixed, which they confirmed it was. Today was payday and Jane didn’t get paid. She checked with the employee again and they acknowledged that they “thought” it was fixed. It’s upsetting for Jane, I understand, but I think she was out of line about the whole thing. People make mistakes.

Neither payroll nor I knew anything about it until today. We both apologized and assured her the issue would be handled. After that, she looked at me and the payroll manager and said, “I appreciate your apology, but I need you both to understand that this can’t happen again. This has put me under financial strain and I can’t continue to work for COMPANY if this isn’t corrected today.”

The payroll manager was heavily in agreement, but I was speechless that she’d speak to management like that.

Payroll handled the whole thing and cut her a check with the okay from HR. Jane had referenced that not being paid put her in financial hardship and unable to pay bills, so HR allowed the use of the employee hardship fund and gave her $500 in gift cards so she can get groceries and gas and catch up on bills. I’m just kind of floored that she’s getting gift cards after speaking to her superiors like that. I’m also uncomfortable because why is our company responsible for her fiscal irresponsibility? Her personal finances or debts are not the company’s responsibility. I just don’t think it’s the company’s responsibility to give her more than what she’s earned (the extra $500 from the employee emergency relief fund) to fix things for her if she overspent or didn’t prioritize her bills or save smartly. We also don’t know if she is actually experiencing a financial hardship or just claiming she was.

HR allowed her paid time to go to the bank today and deposit her check. I told our HR person that while it’s not okay Jane didn’t get paid, the way she approached it was uncalled for. HR told me, “She’s right, it can’t happen again and it shouldn’t have happened at all.”

I’m getting tired of the respect gap I’m seeing with younger staff. I think Jane would be better suited in a different department. I’m not comfortable having her on my team since it’s obvious she doesn’t understand she’s entry-level and not in charge. Should I wait a while before suggesting she transfer to a different department?

I’m going to say this bluntly: you are very, very wrong about this situation, both as a manager and as a human.

Your company didn’t pay Jane money they owed her in the timeframe in which they were legally obligated to pay it. They did this twice.

Your company messed up, and their mistake impacted someone’s income. That’s a very big deal.

The payroll department handled this exactly as they should: they apologized, cut her a check immediately, and helped repair the damage their mistake had caused. Jane shouldn’t have to suffer for their error, and their remedies were appropriate and warranted.

Your objection to this because the company shouldn’t be responsible for Jane’s finances is nonsensical. Your company is responsible for paying the wages they’ve agreed to pay in the timeline they’ve agreed to pay them in. They didn’t meet that obligation, and so they fixed it. That’s not about them being responsible for Jane’s debts; it’s about them being responsible for adhering to a legal wage agreement and treating an employee well after failing at a basic responsibility and causing that person hardship.

Suggesting that someone who needs the paycheck they earned to be delivered to them on time “didn’t prioritize her bills or save smartly” is wildly out of touch with the reality of many people’s finances in this country and how many people live paycheck to paycheck (particularly someone entry-level who just started a job two months ago and may have been unemployed before that). But frankly, even if Jane didn’t save smartly, it’s irrelevant; your company’s mistake is what caused the problem, and it’s what’s at issue here.

Your speculation that Jane might be lying about her financial situation is bizarre and reflects poorly on you. It’s irrelevant and you don’t seem to have any reason for wondering that other than an apparent desire to cast Jane in a bad light.

You’re absolutely right that there’s a respect gap in this situation — but it’s from you toward your employees, not from Jane toward her employer.

There’s nothing disrespectful about Jane advocating for herself and explaining that she’d be unable to stay in the job if the payroll mistakes weren’t corrected. She gets to make that choice for herself, it’s not an unreasonable one, and it’s not disrespectful for her to spell it out. In fact, I’d argue it’s actively respectful since respect requires clear, polite, direct communication and she gave you that.

When you say Jane doesn’t seem to understand she’s entry-level and not in charge … Jane is very much in charge of where she’s willing to work and what she will and won’t tolerate. Every employee is, regardless of how junior or senior they might be.

Corporate power structures require deference in things like decision-making on a project, but not the sort of obeisance in all things that you seem to be looking for.

Somewhere along the way, you picked up a very warped idea of what employees owe their employers, but you don’t seem to have thought much about what employers owe their employees. You urgently need to do some rethinking and recalibration if you’re going to continue managing people.

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MotherHydra
6 hours ago
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Good for Jane for sticking up for herself, she doesn’t owe management anything in the way of pleasantries considering they screwed up not once, but twice. And on her pay! Whoever wrote in should be canned for having a fragile ego- not a great trait for a manager but all too common.
Space City, USA
freeAgent
3 hours ago
Uh yeah, if I was not paid twice including the second time after being assured that the issue was fixed, I'd be pretty upset about it. I'd be especially upset and stressed out if it was cauing me to miss bill payments or be unable to eat or put gas in my car. This shouldn't be hard to understand.

NYPD Threatens Tipster for Filing 311 Complaints About Illegal Parking  – Streetsblog New York City

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Members of the NYPD harassed and threatened a cyclist after he reported the cops for illegally parking along several notoriously lawless stretches in Downtown Brooklyn, including on Schermerhorn Street right outside a transit police station house, according to the complainant — and now the matter is under investigation by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The tipster (who asked to remain anonymous for fear of even more retribution) says he started getting calls from members of New York’s Finest after he made dozens of complaints to 311 about officers from the 84th Precinct and Transit Bureau 30 stashing their private cars in the bike lane and on the sidewalk on Schermerhorn Street, and on nearby Smith, Jay, and Hoyt streets — an illegal practice that for years has gone unchecked, endangering cyclists along the vital corridors.

The tipster shared with Streetsblog a log of 49 of his 311 complaints he made via Reported for illegal parking on Schermerhorn, Jay, Hoyt, and Smith streets — all within the 84th Precinct and adjacent to TD30 — on three dates, including Aug. 13, Aug. 26, and Sept. 10. All 49 are marked as “closed,” though he says the situation was never actually resolved and the cars were never moved, or just came back again the next day.

And on each of those dates, the tipster says he received a retaliatory phone call. The first came on Aug. 13 at about 9:30 am, when the caller actually identified himself as a member of the NYPD, but refused to give his name. The second was on Aug. 26 at about 11 am when someone who identified themselves as Det. Sturman called the tipster a “dickhead.” And the third was a few weeks later on Sept.10 at about 2:45 pm when someone, who the tipster believes was a cop impersonating a 311 operator, told him he would be barred from filing more complaints.

All three calls were shared with Streetsblog.

“My name is Detective Sturman from the 84th Precinct. I’m calling to see if you want to come into the precinct to meet with our community affairs officers…to address your issues. We want to address all your concerns,” the detective said.

“I don’t need to come in, you can just address them by stop parking in the bike lane,” he responded.

The detective responded by saying she “can’t stop people everyday from parking in the bike lane.”

“That’s your job,” the tipster responded, before things escalated when he told her to “f*** off” and the detective said, “stop calling dickhead.”

In another call, the unidentified person claiming to be a 311 operator threatened to block the tipster from filing any more complaints.

“You’re speaking to a 311 operator. Why do you keep putting over the same 311 job over and over and over again? You might be barred from the system going forward,” the unidentified person said, using vernacular (“the same 311 job”) common among cops.

Brooklyn Council Member Steve Levin, who has long complained about personal police vehicles parked illegally with the help of a placard or NYPD logbook on the dash —  was appalled at the abuse of power and harassment of citizens who are just trying to watch the watchers.

“That’s crazy. That’s not legal. The whole situation has been really, really frustrating,” said Levin. “Police officers harassing is so illegal, so far beyond retaliatory. It’s a level of misconduct, nobody should be allowing that. Whatever they’re doing there is a total breach of their duty.”

A spokesperson for 311 said that 311 operators do not personally reach out to those who file complaints, and that complaints are shared directly with the local precinct.

A spokesperson for the NYPD told Streetsblog that they are investigating the incident, and are working with the local precinct to keep the bike lanes and sidewalks clear.

“We are aware of the allegation regarding the detective and the matter is under internal review,” said Detective Sophia Mason. “Parking in the vicinity of the 84th Precinct is extremely limited. The Commanding Officer is aware of complaints regarding bike lanes surrounding the precinct and is working to address the condition.”

And a spokesperson for the Civilian Complaint Review Board told Streetsblog that the case has been assigned to an investigator, who is looking at whether the alleged harassment constitutes “misconduct” that could require a disciplinary recommendation.

The tipster said he started reporting illegal cop parking to 311 after years of growing frustration because no one — including 84th Precinct CO Capt. Adeel Rana, Levin, and Mayor de Blasio — has been able to put an end to the street-level corruption, despite years of broken promises to keep the bike lanes and sidewalks clear.

“The police care more about free parking for their personal vehicles than our personal safety,” he said. “Adeel Rana has allowed a culture of corruption to develop…his officers feel empowered to refuse to identify themselves, and even impersonate other city employees to keep their sidewalk and bike lane parking spaces. The city has failed to provide adequate space for bike riders/pedestrians, and the NYPD’s dangerous parking exacerbates the problem.”

Levin said he held a meeting earlier this month on Schermerhorn Street with the Department of Transportation, the 84th Precinct, and TD30 — he said he invited Transportation Bureau Chief Kim Royster, but she didn’t show. But like all the times before it, there was no solution to fix the longstanding problem, though days later DOT put out a survey soliciting public opinion about the mess.

For now, before a full reconstruction of Schermerhorn Street can happen, Levin said he’s still in favor of giving cops more spots outside the station house if it would stop them from parking in the bike lane, but said that DOT is opposed to it, hypothesizing that more spots would not actually solve anything. He said DOT has no imminent plans for a full reconstruction of Schermerhorn Street.

It’s certainly not the first time that Streetsblog has documented egregious car-centric corruption within the police department. Prior stories include the horrendous driving records of officers, the illegal parking documented at station houses all over the city, and the systemic failure to understand basic traffic laws.

Advocates and local pols have indeed tried — and failed — to get cops to stop illegally storing their personal cars in bus lanes, crosswalks, on sidewalks, and in bike lanes, putting cyclists and pedestrians and danger. Last year, Levin and Council Speaker Corey Johnson introduced legislation that would allow anyone to report illegally parked cars, a new citizen enforcement program modeled after an existing city program to combat idling. A person reporting the illegally parked car would take home some cash if a ticket ended up being issued.

But the de Blasio administration has opposed the bill, fearing that some ticketed drivers would assault their neighbors for ratting them out for illegal parking. In this case, that fear apparently is justified: the NYPD is apparently threatening people for reporting their crimes.

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Dan Lyke:

New research on emissions strengthens case for a 20mph default urban speed limit

New research[1] from engineering consultants, Skyrad, models the impact of capping speeds at 20mph vs. 30mph. This “real life” modelling that takes account of the stop/start nature of urban traffic yields a very different result from traditional steady-state models. It shows significant and substantial reductions in emissions: CO2 lower by 26% and NOx 28% lower. With UK hosting COP26, campaigners are calling on governments to set 20mph or 30km/h limits as national urban/village defaults.

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graydon
10 days ago
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Why Texas Is the Hotbed for Illegal Temp Tags on US Roads

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By continually issuing temporary registration tags, these "dealers" are able to circumvent state registration requirements, as well as the annual safety and emission inspections. There are also drivers who reportedly buy these tags to avoid paying tolls or fines from stoplight and speeding cameras. Another subset purchases them due to having a suspended license or other various legal hurdles which prevent them from legally registering a vehicle.

And then there are the more serious crimes committed involving vehicles that sport these tags—like a Texas officer who was struck and killed in 2019, or another involved in the shooting of a New Orleans officer visiting Houston. The paper plates are a problem out of state as well; according to the Chronicle, the plates are so frequently tied to carjackings and robberies in New York that the NYPD ordered its officers to check any paper Texas tags against the VIN number of the vehicle that it's affixed to.

The dealers selling these temp tags aren't doing it quietly—many are even selling them like a legitimate product. The Drive was easily able to find dozens of examples on Facebook Marketplace offering two-month temp tags for between $35 and $60, payable via PayPal, Cash App, or Zelle. Others on Reddit report seeing individuals advertise these plates on Instagram, Snapchat, and Craigslist.

But just because they're advertising doesn't mean it's legal.

The United States Department of Justice announced in May that three individuals were charged with using Texas as a headquarters to run a nationwide temp tag scheme. The parties were accused of using forged identities, property leases, and office photos to register as a dealer in Texas. The fake dealerships would use the registration system to falsify car sales in order to issue temporary license plates and ship them to customers across the country via email in PDF format. 

In a 17-month span, the ring used four fraudulent dealerships to sell nearly 600,000 Texas-stamped temp tags. One of the dealer accounts generated 430,000 tags before officials cut off access to the online system. Another phony company registered 108,000 more during a three-month period, and two additional bogus licensees produced a combined 50,000 paper plates.

Investigators reportedly spent months attempting to track down the dealerships and verify that they didn't actually exist. Only then could the DMV cut off the dealer's access to the online registration system.

Authorities say that Octavian Ocasio, the self-titled "Used Car King of New York" who was just one of the three men arrested earlier this year, sold as many as 3,000 temp tags in a year's time. His take rate? $250,000, or around $83 per plate, according to the New York Post.

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