Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘urban decay

Where There Is No Vision, the People Perish

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Written by gerrycanavan

March 22, 2011 at 8:44 am

More Friday Links!

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Mubarak has dismissed the government in Egypt. He will probably have to turn the Internet back on by Monday. (BLDGBLOG on Internet choke points.The future of the Mubarak family’s grip on Egypt now appears to be a matter for the Egyptian Army to decide. And: Indeed, there is something to Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei’s argument that America’s current policy “is really pushing Egypt and pushing the whole Arab world into radicalization with this inept policy of supporting repression.” America’s influence and leverage is not what it used to be but it can revive its position by changing its policy approach. TPM’s Egypt Wire.

* Challenger, 25 years on.

Why 3D doesn’t work and never will.

* Ezra and digby think we need to start thinking about a Baby Boomer bailout.

* Even Biden laughs at Biden.

* And you had me at LEGO urban decay.

The Apocalypse Is Already Here

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Picher sprang up as a 20th-century boomtown—the “buckle” of the mining belt that ran through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. The earth underneath it produced most of the lead for US bullets in World Wars I and II and enough zinc to literally galvanize construction of the American suburbs. These raw materials were used to create stronger, water-resistant metal alloys, better batteries, and dietary supplements—the base materials of a modern society. Population peaked at 14,000 in 1926. When the lode ran dry in 1970, the mining companies moved out. Picher eventually became a Superfund site, and half a decade ago the state government offered residents an average of $55 per square foot to evacuate their homes. By September 2009, the police force had disbanded and the government dissolved. Picher was a dead city.

Except that a few people refused to leave. They call themselves chat rats, a loose and increasingly self-reliant colony armed with cell phones and Wi-Fi for communication and guns for driving off scrap-metal scavengers. It’s a life bordering on squalid—on the way out of the Gorillas Cage, Roberts spots shovel marks around the base of the burned-out signpost, the beginning of an attempt to steal it. Across the street, a former auction-house parking lot has become a dumping ground for tires. On the drive back out of town, he passes the abandoned high school and notices that the arts and crafts building has burned down. A man appears to be helping himself to bookshelves from an open classroom. Roberts can’t figure out why anyone would turn down the relocation money he’s offering. “Most people have bettered themselves through this process,” he says. “Now there are only radicals left.” Via MeFi.

Three for Friday

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* College Writing Class Assignments with Real-World Applications.

10. Write a cover letter to a bank manager that claims your B.A. in literature gives you advantages that people who have degrees in business, finance or economics simply don’t have.

Damn straight. Alternatively, the literature student might consider getting a quick certificate in banking from Stephen Colbert “University.”

* America’s Ten Deadest Cities. Clocking in at #4: my beloved Cleveland, who population has nearly halved since 1950. (Thanks, Steve!)

* The aim of the Attribution of Climate-Related Events workshop was to discuss what information is needed to determine the extent to which human-induced climate change can be blamed for extreme weather events – possibly even straight after they have happened. Via this post from Kevin Drum talking more generally about adaptation, prevention, and reparation for climate change.

We Have to Magic the Magic Before the Magic or the Magic will Magic

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* I’m planning on using this week’s bizarre Lost/West Wing crossover as my litmus test for how seriously to take people’s opinions on science fiction. That was painful, and enshrines what is more or less total garbage at the center of the show’s mythology. (We have to magic the magic before the magic or the magic will magic…) Despite those really good time travel bits in season five, season six has presented a strong challenge to the wisdom of our decision to start watching this show again. The showrunners still don’t have any idea what they’re on about; they never have. I’m hoping the last few episodes can avoid Battlestar Galactica levels of total series failure; I’ll be glad if they can just bring this thing in for a landing…

* Oliver Stone previews Wall Street 2 and 3.

* Climate change watch: no more lizards.

* The Great Unwinding: Detroit to begin its demolishing of 10,000 homes.

* And Boing Boing has a helpful graphic about Virgin’s SpaceShip Two. Booking my ticket now.

David Simon, The Wire, and the End of American Empire

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I am wholly pessimistic about American society. I believe The Wire is a show about the end of the American Empire. We are all, or our kids, are going to live that event. How we end up at the end of it and where we end up and whether or not we can survive and on what terms is going to be the only question from now on.

MetaFilter has great links on David Simon and the pessimistic politics of the The Wire.

First, this from the Guardian: “The escalating breakdown of urban society across the US.”

I live in Baltimore, in a neighbourhood that is none of these things. I am vested in the city and its future and I can drive you to places in this city that would transform even the most devout Wire fan into a fat, happy tourist. Baltimore’s charms are no less plentiful than most American cities.

And yet there are places in Baltimore where The Wire is not at all hyperbole, where all of the depicted tragedy and waste and dysfunction are fixed, certain and constant. And that place is, I might add, about 20 blocks from where I live.

That is the context of The Wire and that is the only context in which Baltimore – and by reasonable extension, urban America – can be fairly regarded. There are two Americas – separate, unequal, and no longer even acknowledging each other except on the barest cultural terms. In the one nation, new millionaires are minted every day. In the other, human beings no longer necessary to our economy, to our society, are being devalued and destroyed. Both things are true, and one gets a sense, reading the distant reaction to The Wire, that Europeans are far more ready to be convinced by one vision than the other.

And second, clips of a recent lecture from Loyola College:

Written by gerrycanavan

September 8, 2008 at 1:29 am

Cleveland Is Dying, and It Is Beautiful

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I was all excited to link to Cleveland Is Dying, and It Is Beautiful when I saw the link on MetaFilter, but unfortunately the pictures of my old stomping grounds (go Spartans!) actually aren’t all that evocative. As echo target quips in the thread, “Cleveland here doesn’t seem to be dying so much as it’s stepped out for a smoke and will be back in a minute.” Still, Cleveland’s problems are real, and they have a long history; the stark contrast between the wealth of University Circle and the poverty of areas immediately surrounding it never ceased to shock me the four years I lived there.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 8, 2008 at 2:01 am

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