Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tabitha, a Pseudonym for More Tabs

Just a sampling of the tabs that are currently open in my dang browser.

As if the lead poisoning from leaded gas wasn't enough, the lead in all the old paint in our buildings is still hanging around. And poor kids were being used as guinea pigs to test cost-effective ways to clean it up as recently as 20 years ago. Aaaaagh.

A wordy comic that uses the staircase as a metaphor for how we humans can achieve the unthinkably horrible or the preposterously good.

Minneapolis loves to tear down great or at least unique buildings and put up ugly, same-old, dysfunctional ones. Downtown's Block E redevelopment is the current examplar. Bill Lindeke at Twin Cities Sidewalks tells us why:

The ironic thing about Block E's failure is that the redevelopment, after over a decade of sitting as an empty parking lot, installed a lot of the same things that had been there before. In both incarnations of the block, you had a bookstore, a record store, an arcade, a restaurant (complete with rock musicians), night clubs, a movie theater, and even (eventually) a mammary-themed entertainment venue. The problem was that all the replacements were chain versions of the unique and local places that had been there before -- AMC Theater for the World Theater, Borders for the Shinders, Gameworks for the Rifle Sport [gallery], Escape Ultra Lounge for Moby Dicks, Hooters for Fantasy House, etc. That's precisely the opposite direction that cities should be going in. You'll never recreate suburbia downtown. You have to offer something far more unique, something that the ring road shopping malls can never have... density and diversity.
Lindeke was also on MPR's The Daily Circuit talking about Block E.

Another cool map of how to distribute U.S. statehood to equalize population and therefore representation:

Hello from the state of Mesabi!

Charles C. Mann recently wrote in Smithsonian on what we know about the native people who lived in the areas around Plymouth, Mass., including "Squanto." As the story's subtitle put it, "The Indians who first feasted with the English colonists were far more sophisticated than you were taught in school. But that wasn't enough to save them."

Research written up by MinnPost's Susan Perry finds that conservatives overestimate the amount of agreement within their group, while liberals underestimate it. Liberals, it seems, have a higher need to feel unique. We undermine our own causes with our special snowflakiness.

Diane Ravitch asks, Why Do We Rank and Rate Students, Teachers, and Schools?
It seems to me that we are thinking about children, teachers, and schools the same way we think about sports teams. In every league, there are winners and losers.

But if we think about education as a culture that is very different from that of a competitive sports league, then the picture and the questions change.

What if we thought of schools as if they were akin to families?

Then we would work to develop school cultures that are collaborative and supportive. We would make sure that those with the greatest needs got the resources they need. We would stop thinking of winners and losers (and “racing to the top”) and think instead about the full development of each human’s potential.
The next book I read is going to be her recent Reign of Error.

I don't quite know what to make of this Salon piece, but it's provocative: End the 1 percent’s free ride: Taxing land would solve America’s biggest problems.

I just started reading this piece from Technology Review: Climate Change: The Moral Choices. Enough to recommend it. 

Which has had a bigger impact, the Internet or the washing machine? Here's the case for the washing machine (and other household labor-saving devices).

One more video of cops behaving badly, this time trying to intimidate a law-abiding citizen into giving up his rights at a DUI checkpoint.

NPR's Planet Money team doesn't always get things right, but their series this week on everything and everyone that goes into making a t-shirt has been worth listening to. From today's show, this quote from a Colombian garment factory owner: "Our industry follows poverty."

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