Paul Goldberger no like Charles Gwathmey's new Astor Place tower: "If, as Vincent Scully proposed, architecture is a conversation between generations, this young intruder hasn't much to say to its neighbors. Its shape is fussy, and the glass faÃade is garishly reflective: Mies van der Rohe as filtered through Donald Trump. Instead of adding a lyrical counterpoint to Astor Place, the tower disrupts the neighborhood's rhythm." The apartments themselves sound nice, which apartments starting at $2 million really should.
State representative Pricey Harrison has a bunch of new info on her blog. Greensboro's newest member of the state legislature has enlisted Jay Ovittore to maintain the site; she writes, he handles the actual posting.
Free advice: Put some more info at the top of the page as part of the title banner, eg, State Rep for Greensboro or somesuch.
Atrios on the Bush Social Security plan: "This turns the system into a modest welfare program. And, let me add, for most workers this is worse in the long run than the 'do nothing' plan - the one which assumes given current projects benefits would have to be cut 28% or so starting somewhere between 2040-2050."
He's been at it all day. Just start here and scroll up.
Doug Clark, meanwhile, liked what he heard. I agree that Bush deserves credit for putting Social Security on the front burner. But there remain more problems with his approach than just the details of means testing.
Doug says of the private accounts on which Bush still insists, "the accounts will be voluntary. No one will be forced to participate." Well, until you figure out a way to fund them without trashing the defined benefit program and piling up more debt, that's not exactly true -- people don't have to get private accounts, but anyone depending on Social Security and all of us stuck with paying down the national debt are indeed forced to participate in Bush's plan.
And what is with this line: "I wonder if the final point is what frightens Democrats the most, the idea that people who otherwise would depend on government might build private wealth." Yeah, that must be it. Because you know Democrats, they are really...what? Communists?
Albert Mohler on the separation of church and state: "Most evangelicals, frustrated and distressed by this trend, are unaware of how American Protestants fueled the fire of the separationist vision..."
"By the last quarter of the twentieth century, evangelical Christians were far more concerned with the threat of secularism than of Catholicism." So the state is an instrument to be used against perceived "threats," and the proper mix of religion and politics is what best suits that particular group at that moment?
Councilwoman Claudette Burroughs-White: "The record will show that quite often we do vote along racial lines when it comes to sensitive issues involving social challenges." The Inside Scoop has the email she sent to fellow Councilmembers after the Truth & Rec meltdown.
The New Yorker: "the Arctic is melting." Elizabeth Kolbert begins a three-part series on global warming.
"Nearly every major glacier in the world is shrinking; those in Glacier National Park are retreating so quickly it has been estimated that they will vanish entirely by 2030. The oceans are becoming not just warmer but more acidic; the difference between day and nighttime temperatures is diminishing; animals are shifting their ranges poleward; and plants are blooming days, and in some cases weeks, earlier than they used to..."
After years of warmer temperatures, the frozen ground of the Arctic -- "nearly a quarter of all the land in the Northern Hemisphere--some five and a half billion acres--is underlaid by zones of permafrost" -- is thawing for the first time in human history.
Scary stuff. Even if you don't believe that global warming is influenced by human activity, the reality of climate change seems ineluctable.
The study misquoted on CNN by an anti-gay spokeswoman (who tried to make it say something it absolutely does not say) is itself suspect, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal (thanks for the tip, JN).
WSJ: "The paper is not written as a competent research paper," said Paul Velleman, associate professor of social statistics at Cornell University. "This is a pretty lightweight study," said Kenneth Land, professor of sociology at Duke University and chair of the American Statistical Association's mathematical sociology section.
Jinni Hoggard's run of great news is interrupted. Some more surgery is required and, as her worser half puts it, "we will have to endure another round of chemotherapy and that is really pissing us off." It is discouraging but the news is not completely grim.
Also, I spoke today with a senior MSNBC producer, Mike Tanaka, about the future of the blogging segment. He says it's a work in progress, and that they read what bloggers are saying about the format, content etc. A very productive conversation. I asked if they plan on paying segment contributors, and he said that will probably happen at some point.
David Wharton tours a lovingly-renovated Greensboro building and concludes, "historic authenticity has tremendous economic value...That's why it just makes me shake my head in embarassment when our mayor says in a public hearing, 'I have my doubts about the whole idea of historic districts.'"
Joe Guarino has an update on anti-gay-marriage legislation in North Carolina. For now a pair of bills are bottled up in committee, which Joe, who supports what I see as a startling level of government involvement in our personal lives, thinks is a bad thing. He wants NC GOP to focus on social issues. Sigh. What happened to the party of limited government?
Ad Age: "Yahoo and Google's total ad revenues this year could rival the combined prime-time ad revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC -- a stunning achievement for the companies and a watershed moment for the Internet as an advertising medium." Via Jeff Jarvis, part of another must-read post about the remaking of the media business.
Journeyman Writer reviews cinematic works as movies and as films. "Most good movies inspire action figures and t-shirts...Classes are taught about films." He likes them both. Today, Kung Fu Hustle, a decent film and better movie.
Given relatively low budgets for local players and the scarcity of serious local political coverage by many papers and TV stations, blogs and other web tools may be even more important at a local and regional level than they are on the national scene. They can even lead the media to cover local issues more closely.
We can talk about the nuts and bolts of campaigning, what people have experienced first-hand or seen or would like to try. All the usual poli-blogging challenges apply: integration of web tools and online cadres into existing organizations, turf wars, gaffeophobia, and so on.
You can see my links are pretty Greensboro- and North Carolina-centric. That's what I know best, and I've got some war stories to get us started, but this is meant to be a group activity in which everyone who wants to say something intelligent becomes a discussion leader or contributor.
It's about politics, but not about your politics or mine; all soapboxes will be checked at the door. Pointed observations are encouraged and modest gloating may be tolerated if justified. Y'all come.
Rise of the oligarchs: Duncan Black and Kevin Drum on the Wall Street Journal's shilling for the out-of-sight rich. Drum: "So in 1979 the super-rich earned 3% of the money and paid 5% of the taxes. In 1999 the super-rich earned 10% of the money and paid 11% of the taxes."
An idea for Social Security: keep a cap on taxable income...but have a special 1% SS tax kick in on every dollar of income after, I dunno, $1 million?
Sounds like an activist judge to me: "Just days after a bitterly divided Senate committee voted along party lines to approve her nomination as a federal appellate court judge, California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown told an audience Sunday that people of faith were embroiled in a 'war' against secular humanists who threatened to divorce America from its religious roots, according to a newspaper account of the speech...Democrats have questioned speeches in which she called the New Deal the 'triumph of our socialist revolution.'"
On the Wall Street Journal editorial page (subs. req), Arthur Levitt Jr. tolls the bell for Bush's Social Security plan, saying of "private savings accounts":
Every dollar you take out of traditional Social Security and put into a PSA must be paid back out of your Social Security benefit -- plus interest. If this sounds a lot like margin investing, it should not be a surprise since the PSA plan is modeled on that concept: A worker investing in a PSA would hope -- like a margin investor -- that assets accrued were greater than debts...To come out ahead, then, an investor would have to earn a rate of return that exceeds the interest of the loan, plus expenses.
Could one make this return within an acceptable degree of risk? According to a study by Robert Shiller of Yale, the answer is: not that often...
Borrowing against one's Social Security to invest in the markets is a risky strategy that would only make sense for certain high net-worth investors who can afford to lose their entire investment.
Levitt credits Bush with putting reform on the table. So do I. But this plan is not the way to fix Social Security, and it's time to retire it.
Holy crap. MSNBC has either changed the rules of its blog segment, or changed them just for Hugh Hewitt. I'm scheduled to do the show on Thursday, let's see what they tell me I can and can't do...Not that I have any interest in doing the kind of tiresome talk-radio schtick Hugh delivered, but it will be interesting to learn more about who gets to say what on that show.
Eric Muller: "I'd also be curious to know what Senator Edwards' position is on copyright extension, and why he hasn't said anything to date. The issue does seem ripe for a guy who's focusing on wealth-and-poverty issues."
Here's an article on the use of blogs in business I wrote for my day job. Done as an overview of blogging for corporate IT execs, it may still be useful for some more general readers.
Some pull quotes:
"Blogs and wikis are...basic tools, not narrowly purposed applications. Because of that, blogs can be used to support any number of corporate operations."
"Users appear to be finding new ways to deploy these generic tools...[Ross] Mayfield thinks blogs and wikis could lead to some grand accomplishments that are only beginning to come into focus. The success of Wikipedia, a Web-based encyclopedia created and edited by thousands of volunteers, suggests that companies might also engage in what Mayfield calls 'collaboration at a profound scale.'"
"Technology managers may need to unclench just a bit as blogs go mainstream in the enterprise."
"At Sun, no official direction from above has been required to inspire dozens of internal blogs... 'People are just doing it for themselves,' says [Tim] Bray. .. 'It's like pens and paperÃ³you don't have to tell people what they can do with it.'"
"'This is a fantastically effective listening device,' says Bray. 'Customers are coming to us directly as bloggers. People see us do something wrong or stupid, or missing a chance, and they tell us.'"
The NYT's Katherine Seelye: "Get ready for the next level in the blogosphere." Barf. My hypeometer just threw up.
The big story is about...a celebrity collective headed by Arianna Huffington that is starting a group blog. Hey, maybe it will be good, but maybe we should wait and see before we declare it the "next level." Then again, the next level could be a step down, so I guess Seelye is covered either way...
NYT: "Google, which has built a huge business out of small ads related to what people are searching for on the Internet, is now entering the larger and more competitive market of advertising for things people do not know yet that they want to buy."
Portland opts out of FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force; City Commissioner Randy Leonard worked out his thoughts in public over several months at the BlueOregon blog. Leonard also credits the blog with informing his position on a new baseball stadium.
Senator Richard Burr on Tom DeLay: "To attack the judicial process and the system the way he has is inappropriate."
Our freshman Senator was on the Brad & Britt show on Friday 4/22. Brad Krantz asked him, has DeLay been over the line? Burr: "As a public servant, you don't get close to the line...that's not the way Tom DeLay certainly approaches things, and you see that in his personality. I believe that to attack the judicial process and the system the way he has is inappropriate. But at the end of the day, we have an accountablity tool, it's an election that's held every two years."
NYT: "Nascar Continues Veering Off Tobacco Road." Writer Dave Caldwell phones King Richard. "Petty has become a spokesman for Nicorette, a smoking-cessation nicotine gum...Nicorette has become an associate sponsor of a Nextel Cup car."
The N&R runs an op-ed this morning about mercury regulations for power plants. It's quite friendly to coal industry. The author is J. Allen Wampler, identified only as a former assistant secretary of Reagan's DoE. Sorry, I want more info: what has Wampler been doing for the last 16 years?
Wampler's possible professional relationship to the coal industry doesn't mean he lacks useful things to say about mercury policy. But it is information readers deserve to know. I don't feel I've got enough background on today's guest writer. Does the N&R?
Previously: The N&R runs an op-ed blasting Super Size Me without fully identifying its author as an industry shill.
Here's something to think about on your way to church this morning: Your political opinions may define you as being "against people of faith."
Says who? Not some radical Islamist organization declaring war on infidels, but a group of conservative American Christians who claim that opposing the Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate amounts to opposing religious truth...Bill Frist, Senate majority leader, is scheduled to appear on the program...he's willing to participate in an event that casts approval of President Bush's judicial nominees as a doctrinal issue.
This is a moment to consider just how far we are willing to trespass into the realm of political religion. We've grown used to having our values questioned by the philandering congressmen, wealthy preachers and loofah-loving cable hosts who long ago trampled the line between righteous and holier-than-thou, but this infidel stuff takes it to another level. Having Frist on board raises the stakes.
David Wharton reports on Cornel West at UNCG: A summary of what he said would not do justice to his virtuosic delivery. He is a preacher, really, not a lecturer, though a preacher as fluent in philosophy and literature as in scripture. His talk did not constitute an argument, but rather was a series of compelling rhetorical riffs on materialsm, conformism, plutocracy, the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, terrorism, and African-American music, woven in with his ideas on "Socratic energy," democracy, and cultural and spiritual death and rebirth.
Much more, including a bunch of quotes and -- it being Wharton -- a reference to Gorgias of Leontini at A Little Urbanity.