After the Learnin'

I went to a presentation at the National Yiddish Book Center on the campus of Hampshire College on Sunday. All in all it was an enjoyable experience. The building looked to me to be an homage to a Central European village of the Ashkenazi, which would make sense under the circumstances of course. The viewing

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Addition by Subtraction

I spent two days at “New England’s Great State Fair”, The Eastern States Exposition, known affectionately as “The Big E”. I’m not a big fan of kitsch or fried dough and, while I very much admire both agriculture and the people who work therein, I don’t view it as entertainment so much as the bedrock

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Life is Tragic

Anyone familiar with anything I’ve written on this blog will most likely be familiar with Chuck Marohn and Strongtowns. A great deal of what is written on the Strongtowns blog centers on the fact that suburban development is a Ponzi scheme and depends on growth in order to perpetuate the myth that it is economically

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Sell the Sizzle

During the fight against oil extraction in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge I remember thinking that the fight wasn’t really over whether or not to drill, but when to drill. Our lives depend on oil, one particularly insightful economist says that our agricultural system could be described as the process of turning petroleum into people.

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Preparing for a New World While Living in the Old

Incomprehensibly large things, like say, the industrialized world, take time to change. Richard Dawkins talks about the middle world that we inhabit, somewhere between the incredibly large and the infinitely small and the fact that our brains evolved to understand and predict realities within the tiny range we perceive, Gibbon’s History of the Decline and

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Confessions of an Urban Pioneer

Looking for signs that cities are making a comeback has been my hobby since I was a teenager. Like the proverbial blind squirrel and broken clock, every once in a while the tea leaves do give reason to hope for an urban renaissance. It’s hard to recall every twist and turn along the way but

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Empty Promises

By taxing the improvements made to land and not just the land itself our municipalities encourage the destruction of value at the same time they discourage putting land to its highest and best use. This is never made more clear than when supposed investors purchase improved land and immediately tear down anything of value on

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Vacation is Changing the Places You Drive to

Jim Kunstler writes in his seminal work “The Geography of Nowhere” about the people who vacation at Disney, fall in love with its “Main Street U.S.A.”, and then go “home and tear down half the old buildings downtown and pave them over for parking lots”. When I read that analysis for the first time I

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Is There Room for Success?

(This aerial photo is PRE tornado) Again, leaving aside the issue of gambling itself and its social impacts, there are people who see a Palmer casino as a better economic choice for western Massachusetts because it is being built on a greenfield and is surrounded by undeveloped land which could be utilized for expansion if

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25 or 5 to 4(.45)?

25 and 5 are the numbers you often hear when people express the percent of the world’s energy consumed by the United States compared to its share of world population. Those numbers pop up again when discussing the related percentages of total resources used and, coincidentally(?)the percentage of the world’s prison population. Delving into the

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