You’re entitled to my opinion and there’s ample time, so here are a few random links.


I’m always making notes and collecting links with the idea that they might become blog posts.

Of course “stuff” happens; in January, I began “political distancing” from anti-social Gahanism, then came the disruptions of the planetary pandemic. In short, the notes and links have accumulated, and so here’s a helter-skelter collection.

To kick off the chronology, you’ll not be surprised that this particular publication is suspicious of Piketty.

A bestselling economist sets out the case for socialism at The Economist

Thomas Piketty’s new book may prove as famous—and controversial—as its predecessor.

In “Capital” Mr Piketty shared Karl Marx’s goal in the work of the same name that he published in 1867: to reveal the economic logic of the capitalist mode of production. “Capital and Ideology”, by contrast, is closer to the sociological writings of Marx and his followers, especially “The German Ideology” (1845-46), which sought to explain the social and political means by which capitalists maintained power over the working classes.

How many times have I heard a New Albanian return from vacation, praise a walking- and biking-friendly locale far, far away, then sigh: “too bad we couldn’t ever do that here.” But couldn’t we — I mean, if we weren’t so stupid and cowardly about it?

Why Do We Think Walkable Towns Are Only for Tourists? by Daniel Herriges (Strong Towns)

I wrote a piece a few weeks ago about Irish villages. It was intended to make the point that it’s not only possible, but utterly normal in much of the world, for some of the best walkable urbanism around to be located in smaller cities or even tiny rural towns.

In such places, the village is compact, with bustling streets and little wasted space. However, if you walk to the edge of town, you are immediately in farm fields. There is a stark line between town and country, not the suburban-style blurring of the edges we often find in car-centric North America, where the edge of town consists of a mile or two of chain restaurants and gas stations.

Earlier this year when the town of Clarksville released its ideas for much needed positive changes to the design of Brown’s Station Way, the automobile supremacists came immediately out of hiding, among them Wynken (John Gilkey) and Nodd (Lindon Dodd). We know Blynken is out there somewhere, but don’t worry, car fetishists — it will be a while before the town gets around to doing the rational thing, freeing you to remain Luddites.

DODD COLUMN: Road plan full of potholes (by Nodd, in the local chain newspaper)

Brown’s Station Way — a very short, simple, unassuming stretch of mostly ignored if not forgotten road that has apparently suddenly been discovered by engineers, architects, local political types, safety experts, and developers.

Of course the local chain newspaper is unaware of safety by design, and proved it with an editorial from Terre Haute. The conclusion is correct, but it would be instructive to see Gilkey’s former employer show an aptitude for modern thinking about complete streets. After all John lacks it.

EDITORIAL: For safety’s sake, ban cellphones while driving

No law is going to prevent every crash or bring an end to distracted driving. But banning cellphone use while driving can help make vehicular travel safer for everyone. It’s time for Indiana to become part of that solution.

Another look at the utter futility of painted (and ignored) sharrows on roadways.

Separated Bike Lanes Means Safer Streets, Study Says, by Aaron Short (Streetsblog)

A 13-year study of a dozen cities found that protected bike lanes led to a drastic decline in fatalities for all users of the road.

Perhaps even more important: Researchers found that painted bike lanes provided no improvement on road safety. And their review earlier this year of shared roadways — where bike symbols are painted in the middle of a lane — revealed that it was actually safer to have no bike markings at all.

One can only imagine the phone sex between Gahan and Duggins as they plot to turn the coronavirus crisis into some way of demolishing public housing in New Albany. Why? Because that’s what opportunistic slaves to money do when people aren’t looking.

For Those Living in Public Housing, It’s a Long Way to Work, by Sarah Holder (CityLab)

A new Urban Institute study measures the spatial mismatch between where job seekers live and employment opportunities.

Depending upon which zip code they call home, researchers found that the average person using some form of government housing aid is likely to face tougher odds of getting a job near their neighborhood than the average job seeker who isn’t using assistance, even those who are extremely low-income. “In fact, the average assisted household is surrounded by 6,032 more nearby Snagajob seekers than Snagajob postings, compared with 3,056 more for unassisted, extremely low–income households — nearly double the amount,” the report reads.

Of all assisted households, those living in public housing had the biggest difference between the number of job seekers and the number of jobs nearby; next came housing choice voucher, or HCV, recipients.

And, to conclude with topicality.

A Tale of Two Plagues, by Katha Pollitt (The Nation)

Tips on self-isolation from Daniel Defoe and Giovanni Boccaccio

I’ve been catching up on the classics. For example, Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, an early example of the nonfiction novel, written in 1722 about London’s Great Plague of 1665. After a slow start—the novel begins with a lot of statistics to establish its factual reliability—it picks up, as Defoe’s narrator, H.F., a prosperous saddlemaker, misses his chances to leave London and finds himself trapped in town, where he alternates between prudent isolation indoors and restless wanderings through the streets …

… They’re definitely not having as much fun as the wealthy young people in Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, who escaped the 1348 plague by holing up in the Florentine countryside, flirting and telling sexy stories.