7.25.2017

Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXX

Here's an excerpt from a book I read earlier this month, "Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy," by Mike Love:

The Czechs wanted our music, but I don’t believe that the music alone was our appeal. In our three days in the country, in Prague and Brno, we were besieged by fans fascinated by the United States. They were desperate for anything Western. In contrast to their own suffocating conditions, the Beach Boys represented sun-kissed beaches and high-powered hot rods. But we also represented freedom, prosperity, and opportunity. The irony: in America itself, we were too closely associated with those values, but abroad, those values made us idols. 

All music has a political context, and we performed ours when the Soviets and the Americans were vying for the allegiance of people from across the world, from Europe to Asia to Africa as well as Latin America. Unwittingly, our music exported the American dream in two-minute capsules. I’m not claiming we helped win the Cold War, but I’ve heard from Russians and Chinese, Cubans and South Africans, East Germans and Vietnamese, who listened to our music on American Forces Network or pirate ships or bootlegged tapes or old-fashioned albums. And they loved our songs, many of which offered a vision of America, and a way of life, that they themselves wanted.

7.24.2017

Lazy Linking, 193rd in an Occasional Series

Stuff I liked lately on the Internets:



193.1 Don’t forget: traffic isn’t just happening to you, it IS you bit.ly/2vkZCRN @longbeachize

193.2 Opioid overdose antidote so costly that cities consider rationing it w/repeat users wapo.st/2uANT3K @washingtonpost
                       
193.3 Billy Beane promises one last rebuild so A’s are ready to compete in ’19 in new stadium es.pn/2ut1zNQ @espn

193.4 Donuts…w/ice cream in them. One dozen please… bit.ly/2uKF348 @scarymommy

193.5 Why intellectual elites get no sympathy: professors complain that having summer off is hard bit.ly/2trKYuy @margrev



193.6 Beating cancer isn’t 1 person in 1 life, it’s lots of ppl over many years bit.ly/2ueDmu1 @kottke bit.ly/2tKPFLd @huffpost

193.7 Everything you want to know (& you do want to know) about how/where athletes pee es.pn/2uc4pEX @espn

193.8 There’s 2 kinds of popularity & we’re fretting over the wrong one bit.ly/2tPrUDw @qz

193.9 Whoa: Mexico City eliminates parking minimums, requires bike parking bit.ly/2tKvDR5 @streetsblogusa


193.10 Argentinian bfast/tea/coffee coming to our neighborhood! bit.ly/2tESiBv @westphillylocal


 

7.20.2017

Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXIX

Here's two excerpts from a book I am reading, "Grunt: The Curious Science of Men at War," by Mary Roach:



For every general and Medal of Honor winner, there are a hundred military scientists whose names you’ll never hear. The work I write about represents a fraction of a percent of all that goes on. I have omitted whole disciplines of worthy endeavor. There is no chapter on countermeasures for post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, not because PTSD doesn’t deserve coverage but because it has had so much, and so much of it is so very good. These books and articles aim the spotlight where it belongs. I am not, by trade or character, a spotlight operator. I’m the goober with a flashlight, stumbling into corners and crannies, not looking for anything specific but knowing when I’ve found it.

***

It’s hard for me to imagine: worrying about the emotional state of other people when you yourself have just lost part of both legs and possibly some of your genitalia and on top of that your pelvis is broken. White told me his platoon sergeant said to him recently, “Maybe it happened to you because you’re the kind of person who’s tough enough to handle it.” I think White is plenty tough, but I don’t think we’re talking about toughness here. This is some kind of blinding selflessness, the sort of instinct that sends parents running into burning buildings. The bonding of combat, the uncalculating instinct of duty to one’s charges and fellow fighters, these are things that I, as an outsider, can never really understand.

7.18.2017

Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXVIII

Here's an excerpt from an article I just read, "Baseball Tackles Workplace Mystery: How to Build Team Chemistry?" in the Wall Street Journal:



Fast forward nearly two decades, and the thinking has changed. In a sweeping shift, many of the industry’s wonkiest stat-heads now acknowledge that how players get along with each other likely can affect how they perform on the field over a six-month season.

“Chemistry is absolutely critical, but very few teams or managers or general managers know how to create it or even have any idea how to create it,” said Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, the leader of perhaps the most data-driven front office in the majors. “You know it’s important, but you don’t know what the levers are to change it.”

But what if they did? Corporate managers and armies of consultants have wrestled with this question for decades, and now baseball is tackling it head-on: Can something as nebulous as “chemistry” be quantified like on-base percentage or ERA, and if so, can it be weaponized?

Increasingly, forward-thinking franchises think it’s possible not only to measure the impact of chemistry, but to cultivate positive chemistry in an intentional and systematic fashion. That belief has sparked an information arms race in an area often discussed but rarely analyzed in a scientific way. 

And whoever solves the riddle first will have earned a competitive advantage over their peers that could come with far-reaching ramifications.
 



7.14.2017

Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXVII

Here's an excerpt from an article I recently read, "A Columbia Professor's Critique of Campus Politics," in the Atlantic Magazine:

The idea that I disagree with you and that makes you a bad person, that might not be new. Because people were having that on the Upper West Side during Nixon, for example. It wasn't just, I disagree with you about Nixon. It was, you're a bad person. I think that now, more specifically, the problem is, “you're a bad person and you should not speak,” that's what is new.

Today the idea is that you walk out of the room, you can't hear it, because the space isn't safe. That's a theatrical gesture. It should be used for auditions.

That's what the problem is, I think.



7.13.2017

Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXVI

Here's an excerpt from an article I just read, "From 'Not in My Backyard' to 'Yes in My Backyard,'" in the Atlantic Magazine:


The idea of wealth redistribution was what helped convert Loe, the Seattle YIMBY, to the cause. She was raised by two art historians, she told me, who emphasized the importance of historic preservation, and so she used to support restrictions on building. She used to want to “wage a proxy war on capitalism,” she told me, by not letting builders build. Loe was the campaign manager for a Seattle city-council candidate who opposed development, and as she knocked on doors during the campaign, she met a number of NIMBYs who didn’t want their neighborhoods to be more diverse. It slowly dawned on Loe, who had been a member of the Green Party for 20 years, that building more housing was the way to make Seattle more equitable. “White homeowners have had so many advantages and subsidies and tax breaks—there’s a fairness issue there,” she said. “It’s about sharing the city.”

7.11.2017

What Am I Working On

As has become my custom every three months, here's what I'm working on now at work. I won't repeat anything from last time that I happen to still be working on, and for confidentiality's sake I have to blur some of the details for some of these studies.

* Economic and community impact of an urban university and health system.

* Economic impact profile for a Christian college in rural Georgia.

* Comparative analysis of tax burden in multiple jurisdictions across a metropolitan region.

* Strategic plan for a workforce development not-for-profit organization.

* Visitor volume and economic impact analysis for a regional tourism marketing entity.

* Economic development strategy for a small city struggling with crime and blight.