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Little Experiments on the Cheap

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Part of my ongoing plan to create a more resilient and adaptable life includes finding alternative ways to satisfy daily needs with simple affordable work-arounds. I want electric lights at night and I want to charge my cell phone and small devices even if the power goes out in a storm. This little $80 portable foldable solar panel does the trick. I placed my wallet next to the folded panels for scale. The package is the size of a book.  read more »

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Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

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Urban planners predicted that Millennials would prefer renting apartments in dense cities over owning homes in low-density suburbs. So they told regional governments to restrict low-density development and promote high-density housing instead. Now, Millennials are 18 percent less likely to own homes than their parents did when their parents were young: in 1990, 45 percent of 25-34-year-olds owned their own homes; by 2015, it was just 37 percent.  read more »

EU Auditor High-Speed Rail Criticisms: Lessons for North America and Australia

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The European Court of Auditors issued a report in late June critical of Europe’s development of high-speed rail. The European Court of Auditors is described on its website as: “the EU's independent external auditor, the European Court of Auditors looks after the interests of EU taxpayers.  read more »

A Corporate Wealth Tax: Making the Oligarchs Pay

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It may be en vogue among a certain group to express concern about the influence of Russian oligarchs within our political system, but perhaps we should all be a bit more concerned about the home-grown variety, the Silicon Valley and tech billionaires. Given their huge wealth, influence and control over information, we need to start having serious discussions about how best to deal with their impact on our democracy, which they increasingly seem to want to co-opt with their money and power.  read more »

The Once and Future Lagos

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City Journal just ran a very interesting piece on Lagos by Armin Rosen. Lagos is by some estimates Africa’s largest city and is well known as a creative capital. I don’t know anything personally about the city, but found Rosen’s description balanced and fascinating. Here are some excerpts:  read more »

The West Is In The Midst Of A Migration And Identity Crisis

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As the economy has improved, popular concern, both here and abroad, has shifted to issues of migration and identity. Just last year, immigration, according to Gallup, was seen as the most important issue by barely 5 percent of the population, while the economy was cited by more than four times as many. But now, immigration and undocumented aliens is now the biggest concern to 15 percent of the population, equal to that of the economy.  read more »

Across the Gobi Desert by Train

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In recent years, China has substantially increased the size of its railway system and has overtaken long-standing leader India in total passenger travel. As a result, it has become far more convenient to travel longer distances by train.  read more »

Iowa’s Next Election: Bridging the Urban-Rural and Class Divide

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My home state of Iowa famously gave Barack Obama a convincing victory in the Democratic caucuses in 2008, the first triumph that launched a young U.S. senator from Illinois to become the first African-American president. Obama ultimately won two terms, and each time Iowans favored him by considerable margins. Iowa was also one of several Midwestern states that famously flipped to support Donald Trump in 2016.  read more »

Welcome To Ashburn (via WBEZ)

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Some recent pieces I wrote about segregation in the past few weeks got me thinking of how to express a particular feature of segregation I've witnessed in the Rust Belt, what one might call "diversity without integration", plays out in some cities.  read more »

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