This has been kind of a tough week and, due to time and a need for sleep, this is going to be a short digest. Actually, my time devoted to reading news this week has been embarrassingly minimal and I am feeling ignorant and slightly out-of-touch as a result. I'll pass on what I have.
I have a story to share first. My oldest daughter is attending "kinder-camp" this week, an orientation program for kids that will be starting kindergarten after Labor Day. As I am pulling up to the school yesterday she asks me to drop her off at the curb and not walk in with her. I told her I wanted to walk in with her. She told me that it was okay if she could walk out in front. I asked her why and was informed that she was six now and didn't need a daddy to walk her in. Wow....she's breaking my heart and she's not even officially started school yet. Parents, what's it like when they go to college? Or get married? Does it get easier?
Enjoy the week's news.
- The little bit of financial news I have read this week has been dire. Is a double-dip a certainty now? Actually, a revision to earlier numbers may show that we've simply been dipping the entire time. The news that one in ten mortgages is in foreclosure, even after bailouts and programs to forestall it from happening, is a really bad omen.
"Ultimately the housing story, whether it is delinquencies, homes sales or housing starts, is an employment story," Jay Brinkmann, the trade group's top economist, said in a statement. "Only when we see a consistent increase in employment will we see an increase in sales and starts, and a sustained improvement in the delinquency numbers."
- I'm so geeked out on the concept of Government 3.0, the idea of actually applying technology to make our towns and neighborhoods more robust, alive and intelligent. This article draws some fascinating parallels between software systems and the systems we use to manage places. Dream big.
These being Silicon Valley types, it was clear what that solution should be. “Copying 20th century cities in Dubai and Shanghai is crazy,” said former Sony chairman Nobuyuki Idei in yet another session. “We need… a city OS” – a single platform managing power, water, traffic, security and any other urban system you can think of.
- Politically we are a diverse group here at the non-partisan Strong Towns, but I tend to be the conservative-libertarian of the bunch. Reconciling my fundamental principles with good urbanism and an opposition to our current centralized, homogeneous and government-subsidized development pattern has been easy. If you want another opinion in that vein, Stephen Smith of Market Urbanism had a great piece on his blog.
At least in North America, every great intracity mass transit system was build by private enterprise, almost without exception. From subways to streetcars, private enterprise showed a willingness and eagerness to build and profit from rail-based transit. Sure, the systems weren’t totally private and unregulated (exclusive franchise monopolies were often granted by municipal governments, among other interventions), but the system was far more “private” than the current mostly-suburban road/automobile transportation system that Reason and many other self-identified libertarians champion.
- I loved this article on Jane Jacobs, mostly for the conclusion, which I am going to gratuitously share with you here. Read the entire article - it is worth your time.
We don’t need acolytes of Jane Jacobs; we need people who will think as hard and as well as she did about “the kind of problem a city is.”
- The world is getting smaller, and so is the universe. I love the fact that we are closing in on some of the most spectacular discoveries imaginable. Excuse the diversion, but we all need to dream.
- Finally, James Kunstler still has not accepted my friend request on Facebook, but that won't stop me from sharing this video I just ran across of a speech he gave on The Long Emergency.