Aleppo souk
September 30, 2012, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Cities, fear | Tags: , ,

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Aleppo’s 17th century souk partially destroyed in fighting.


and there was light
September 19, 2011, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Cities, Energy, fear, housing | Tags: , , ,

the uneasy fear of ideas
September 12, 2011, 5:30 pm
Filed under: betaCITY, Cities, fear | Tags: , , , ,

Even in the new world, things get old in a hurry.  And it makes sense that in the American north east, where the Puritans and Quakers and Dutch first established themselves, and where new treaties and governments and constitutions were established first, and native peoples beat back, the body politic began its atrophy.

H. L. Mencken was a Baltimore writer and social critic.  In this excerpt from his essay, The Scene Almost Staggers, he takes down the eastern seaboard cities, that densely populated string of urbanity from which the great western expansion sprung.  Class esteem, self actualization and fear are the hallmarks of the east coast society that only a few generations earlier had escaped similar social strictures and clambered onto boats to make the trans Atlantic journey to a new kind of elusive freedom.

Continue reading

ecology reduces policies of violence
September 7, 2011, 3:43 pm
Filed under: betaCITY, Cities, fear | Tags: , , ,

Having an ecologically oriented society reduces the risk that policies of violence will be pursued in our name.

Petra Kelly, German Green Party

crime in America
July 6, 2011, 10:31 pm
Filed under: betaCITY, Cities, fear | Tags: , , , ,

Crime is down in American cities and everyone is wondering why.  It’s a headlining story because the usual bug-a-boos – abortion, race, economic hardship, the big bad city – are resisting blame.  The new idea – one that is gaining traction even in face of a culture of fear mongering – is that diversity, of all things, leads to less crime.

This suggests that our tendency to separate – classes, races, ages, hobbyists – in our urban environments leads to increased crime.  In no uncertain terms, we have made a fine art of segregating in the way we live:  ghettos for races, retirees, the poor, golfers, airplane enthusiasts, nudists, factory workers, the rich, and on and on.

Continue reading

goin’ back to Houston tm

In America there was a very deliberate decision made to separate politicians from businessmen in the establishment of our state capitals and business cities.  Albany is miles from New York City, as is Sacramento from LA, Austen from Houston, Springfield from Chicago, Harrisburg from Philadelphia and so on.  Get the lawmakers out of town and let business get down to business was the guiding principle.

New York boomed not in small part because of the free trading, ethnically diverse, pub going and prostitute partaking culture set up by the tolerant Dutch.  Bombay was the same:  tolerance, inclusion, liberalism, a flowering of activity and trade.  Meanwhile, puritan religion and intolerance squelched business life in Boston and other eastern cities which stagnated and never caught up.

Liberal trade policies made boom cities but world financial centers still operate according to rules.  They’re economically liberal; they’re not anarchies.

Continue reading

turf wars
June 24, 2011, 1:51 pm
Filed under: betaCITY, fear, Ghettos | Tags: , ,

From Lapham’s Quarterly