Interesting op-ed on a longitudinal study on religion and family life in America, which added the non-religious to observant and produces interesting findings that also come as no surprise:
High levels of family solidarity and emotional closeness between parents and nonreligious youth, and strong ethical standards and moral values that had been clearly articulated as they were imparted to the next generation.
“Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious’ parents in our study,” Bengston told me. “The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”
My own ongoing research among secular Americans — as well as that of a handful of other social scientists who have only recently turned their gaze on secular culture — confirms that nonreligious family life is replete with its own sustaining moral values and enriching ethical precepts. Chief among those: rational problem solving, personal autonomy, independence of thought, avoidance of corporal punishment, a spirit of “questioning everything” and, far above all, empathy.
Again, this is only interesting and not a great surprise, unless you were convinced that heathens are, by nature, evil (one study-aid among many provided to you by one flavor of good book or another). And speaking of which, contrast this with the good-natured white nationalism of strong christian and Iowa congressman Steve King. How (rhetorical) does an adult human living in this country in 2017 believe in some kind of civilization that relies on demographic purity? Might it be a view emanating from, if not sanctioned by, very strong beliefs in Judeo-Christian tradition? Forgive the broad brush but come on – it almost seems like too much to be able to withstand such certainty. And no, there is no convincing this person or others otherwise. But there is calling them out as pathetic and racist, and that we must resolve to do.
Stories we tell children about a long ago time and place, a verdant, green land with cities and towns that glistened within their limits and only slipped beyond those with the greatest care and caution. Linked by tiny roads and fast rail lines, seen from the air the denser areas were surrounded by neat parcels under cultivation. It all looked so orderly and organized to work properly, if not effectively. Oh, yes, then there was that other meaning of denser:
Giant urban sprawl could pave over thousands of acres of forest and agriculture, connecting Raleigh to Atlanta by 2060, if growth continues at its current pace, according to a newly released research paper from the U.S. Geological Survey.
“We could be looking at a seamless corridor of urban development,” said Adam Terando, a research ecologist with the USGS and an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University who was the study’s lead author.
The development will engulf land from North Carolina to Georgia, and possibly spread to Birmingham, Ala., “if we continue to develop urban areas in the Southeast the way we have for the past 60 years,” he said.
Combining USGS demographic modeling with North Carolina State’s High Performance Computing Services and analyzing the data for six years, Terando and his five co-authors estimated that urbanization in the Southeast will increase by up to 190 percent.
See also, the Myth of Progress for further edification. That orderly view is also available, but you’ll have to make arrangements to take a different route.
Image: The Southeast U.S. region used in this study. (Terando et. al/PLOS One)
What do you get when you cross a major corporation with the do-gooder trendiness of a Major Art Establishment? Pleasure.
You can tell a lot from the language people use– as well as from the language they don’t use. An online visit to the “mobile” BMW Guggenheim Lab, which recently touched down on Houston Street and Second Avenue in all its up-to-the-minute minimalist splendor, suggests that the “international, interdisciplinary teams of emerging talents” running it are engaged in the paradoxical task of trying to discover “innovative” solutions to intractable urban problems while thinking solely in clichés.
The Web site itself is of course cheery and bright, featuring lots of baby blues, the usual self-promotional videos, fussy graphics, things to click on, and, of course, an Internet letter box in which you – an ordinary citizen! – can post your radical visionary ideas about how to improve the city without even buying a stamp.
The economy is almost beyond repair, world banks are facing a meltdown, entire segments of the population have been served with their divorce papers by any and all employers, but the Guggenheim’s site is full of madly utopian visions such as that eye-catching poster in which all of New York’s major buildings are squeezed into the rectangle usually occupied by Central Park, while the rest of the island becomes a green, pristine forest – much as it was before those horrid Europeans arrived in their high-tech wooden boats. Yeah, that’ll work. Just watch out for the bows and arrows.
Read the whole thing – it’s just darling, like feeling the future through a never-ending schedule of plastic glove symposia.
Now this is the kind of Iraqi issue I, for one, am glad to fret over:
Baghdad has weathered invasion, occupation, sectarian warfare and suicide bombers. But the latest scourge, tastelessness, may prove the toughest to overcome.
Iraqi artists and architecture critics who shudder at each new pastel building blame a range of factors for Baghdad’s slide into tackiness: including corruption and government ineptitude, as well as everyday Iraqis who are trying to banish their grim past and are unaccustomed to having the freedom to choose any color they want.
God bless ’em. Welcome to the modern world, Iraqis. But for my money, this is the pull quote:
“Right now, when I have an exhibition at my gallery nobody comes from the government, only the art students and other artists,” Mr. Sabti said. “Taking care of the look of the city has stopped because the people who have come to power were living in villages with animals. So how did they develop their taste?”
If you guys figure anything out, do tell.
Nice piece in the NYT about the NREL research center in Colorado, especially on the architectural consequences of energy efficiency:
The $64 million Research Support building opened last year as a kind of physical assertion by the Energy Department, the lab’s parent agency, that office space can be driven down to zero net energy use through a combination of on-site energy production (rooftop solar) and fanatical attention to detail everywhere else in how the building saves and sips energy as a workplace for 800 engineers, managers and support staff members.
The resulting mix is meant to inspire builders and architects around the idea that net zero energy use is not only attainable but also affordable and even elegant. And that presents a new palette for architectural criticism.
How, for example, should one assess what seems at first to be an interesting sculpture in the building’s courtyard that in fact turns out to be a cleverly disguised fresh-air intake device for natural cooling of the basement data center? Extra points for form, or for function?
It’s getting to be a really weird thing to see vast new buildings, with square footage north of 100K, that leave these efficiencies on the table. They might use passive solar or have a giant cistern buried on site, but still have enormous shingled roofs that just sit there for decades without doing anything. It’s this expectation that needs ramping up. Instead the fossil dead-enders are looking to let the carrots rot and burn the sticks so as to finance for tax relief for the prosperous. We need to be asking more of architecture than just being structural remedies for various activities; double- and triple-purposing is the order of 2001… so you can, see we’re behind. And I would wager that architects generally would be willing and able… especially if hyper-efficiency came with built-in permission for the ugly buildings many seem to adore. Could be a decent trade (that we’re already making in exchange for bupkis).
But asking architects and engineers to fight clean energy battles against the folks who get elected is, well… probably too innovative.
Written by our friend JL, an article on a potential oxygen tank for underwater properties:
Redfields describe a financial condition, not a development type. So brownfields and greyfields are often redfields, as are other distressed, outmoded or undesirable built places: failed office and apartment complexes, vacant retail strips and big-box stores, newly platted subdivisions that died aborning in the crash.
Now comes “Redfields to Greenfields,” a promising initiative aimed at reducing the huge supply of stricken commercial properties while simultaneously revitalizing the areas around them. (It’s a catchy title, if imprecise because it’s about re-establishing greenfields within developed areas, not about doing anything to natural or agricultural acreage at the urban margins.) The plan, in essence, is this: Determine where defunct properties might fit a metropolitan green-space strategy; acquire and clear them; then make them into parks and conservation areas, some permanent and some only land-banked until the market wants them again.
There’s plenty to agitate against when the proposition of more urban park space comes up, even when, hey, who doesn’t love a park? There could always be better uses for land, but we have t0 get urban property back up to a premium first. And this is not a bad way to over-correct, where much correction is due. Like, say, from most places to everywhere.
I always think it’s cool that election day so closely follows All Hallow’s. Some kind of convergence that appeals, that I don’t want explained.
In an unrelated development, was recently enjoying this site.
So… even for an election season, the politics of the moment are coming unhinged; just read the last ten or twelve posts at TPM, a supposedly moderate newsy site, and you’ll see how covering the right is becoming a circus of crazy. Conventional thinking is gelling around the notions that
a) the Republican Party is the Tea Party
and b) whatever it’s called the GOP Confederate Party needs to disappear, and/or be replaced by something other than either one of those, for the good of the country.
But that’s… a bit of crazy in its own right, and we could definitely be being governed by majorities of those freaks (think endless investigations of trivial scandals and government shutdowns) after this fall. Nonetheless… Green. What do it mean? How about your crappy internet service? Don’t think its so crappy?
The Connectivity Scorecard is, as Stacey Higginbotham reports for GigaOM, a favorite measure of the telecom industry, since it paints the America in a particularly favorable light.
The Scorecard looks not just at broadband infrastructure, but also at how a country uses its broadband, and how much that helps its economy. So while the United States has less and slower broadband than many Asian and European countries, it was the top rated country on the Scorecard until this year.
But as this chart emphasizes, U.S. broadband is far less advanced than that of leading countries. Despite ranking the United States second, the report states: “While it has significantly more fiber and DOCSIS 3.07 deployment than most of Western Europe, US infrastructure is uneven, and the gap with respect to Asian economies and even Sweden and the Netherlands remains substantial.”
Is there a connection? Sorry. Expect more. Before it becomes a corporate logo. Damn.
Even with a moderate amount of walking, sometimes you come across evenings like this. Tragic, really.
I say “Tui,” you say, “lleries!”
I’m working on a long lecture about the importance of vast public spaces in an urban landscape. It’s just not ready yet. More study needed.