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Here’s the link roundup:
Matt Hennessey: Zero Hour for Generation X
Given the eager acquiescence of millennials to the all-online world, Generation X has a formidable responsibility to keep faith with reality. They are the last analog generation. Raised in a prerevolutionary moment technologically, they are children of paper, books, handshakes, body language, and eye contact. They learned—even if they didn’t always practice or appreciate them—the virtues of patience, self-control, and delayed gratification. They knew what it meant to be out of contact with someone they loved. Some of them—too few—learned how to fix an engine or wire a light fixture. Most remember how quiet things used to be; how easy it was to be alone.
The Atlantic: How the smart phone destroyed a generation.
There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness. Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Admittedly, 10 hours a week is a lot. But those who spend six to nine hours a week on social media are still 47 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who use social media even less. The opposite is true of in-person interactions. Those who spend an above-average amount of time with their friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they’re unhappy than those who hang out for a below-average amount of time.
In my day, it was television that was supposed to be ruining America’s youth.
This First Things article on community and New York was published in 1995
The great thing about New York is that it offers as much opportunity for community as one desires. Its variety allows for the most exotic forms of community imaginable: if you require fellowship with other cross-dressing Latvian cribbage players, New York can provide it for you. My own communal needs are considerably more pedestrian, but I can report that, having lived in communities of seven thousand, twenty-five thousand, sixty thousand, 150 thousand, 1.5 million, and, now, 7.3 million, I have nowhere more fully felt a sense of community—nowhere found myself so securely part of a band of brothers—as in cold, impersonal Manhattan. New York is not a home—it is far too large for that—but its very size and variety allow it to provide homes within it for a staggering range of home-seekers. Beyond that, it provides a backdrop so expansively grand and multifarious as to remind bands of brothers of the larger worlds, and the wider visions, that exist beyond them.
LA Times: Replacing labor with robots
AgroBot is still more John Deere than C-3PO — a boxy contraption moving in fits and starts, with its computer-driven sensors, graspers and cutters missing 1 in 3 berries. Such has been the progress of ag-tech in California, where despite the adoption of drones, iPhone apps and satellite-driven sensors, the hand and knife still harvest the bulk of more than 200 crops. Now, the $47-billion agriculture industry is trying to bring technological innovation up to warp speed before it runs out of low-wage immigrant workers.”
“We’ve been masking this problem all these years with a system that basically allowed you to accept fraudulent documents as legal, and that’s what has been keeping this workforce going,” said Steve Scaroni, whose Fresh Harvest company is among the biggest recruiters of farm labor. “And now we find out we don’t have much of a labor force up here, at least a legal one.”
Stated bluntly, there aren’t enough new immigrants for the state’s nearly half-million farm labor jobs — especially as Mexico creates competing manufacturing jobs in its own cities, Taylor said. He has calculated that the pool of potential immigrants from rural Mexico shrinks every year by about 150,000 people.
Not surprisingly, wages for crop production have climbed 13% from 2010 to 2015 — a higher rate than the state average, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of Labor Department data. Growers who can afford it have begun offering savings and health plans more commonly found in white collar jobs.
Joe Cortright: Poverty still isn’t as suburban as you think
The reshaping of how Americans shop by the internet is accelerating. The US retail industry faces a growing headache, with 10 companies pushed into bankruptcy already in 2017, according to Standard & Poor’s. Even Sears, a once mighty department store chain founded in 1886, is now tottering. “We think the magnitude of this short could be bigger than subprime,” says Stephen Ketchum, the head of Sound Point Capital, a hedge fund that manages more than $13bn in assets. “Go to the Amazon website and type in ‘batteries’. What you see is just the tip of the future iceberg. And retail is the Titanic.”
Janan Ganesh: Who is paying for the global city?
The secret of his new age of the city state, is that is runs on other people’s money. There is a class of workers who can live above their means (as defined by their salaries) by leaning on miles, points, expenses, and other supplements. There is a class of restaurant, bar, hotel and airline that could not survive without a tapestry of indirect income.
The word that recurs in the discourse about these cities is “postmodern”. They hold little to be fixed or sacred. They allow themselves to be remade by outsiders. They cultivate an Anglophone jet set who feel more at ease in a dozen or so world centers than in the hinterlands of their own countries. Well, nothing is more postmodern than a disconnection between income and expenditure.
Surrounded by quiet neighborhoods and easy highway connections, this 86-acre suburban compound adorned with walking paths and duck ponds was for four decades considered the ideal place to attract top executives as the company rose to global dominance. Now its leafy environs are considered a liability. Locked in a battle with companies of all stripes to woo top tech workers and young professionals, McDonald’s executives announced last year that they were putting the property up for sale and moving to the West Loop of Chicago where “L” trains arrive every few minutes and construction cranes dot the skyline. In Chicago, McDonald’s will join a slew of other companies — among them food giant Kraft Heinz, farming supplier ADM and telecommunications firm Motorola Solutions — all looking to appeal to and be near young professionals versed in the world of e-commerce, software analytics, digital engineering, marketing and finance.
The American Prospect: The Pittsburgh Conundrum
Pittsburgh was always more than its city limits. The seven counties composing the metropolitan region include surrounding towns that contributed to Pittsburgh’s industrial might in the 20th century, such as Braddock, Homestead, Aliquippa, and McKees Rocks. But the area beyond Pittsburgh, extending from these towns through western Pennsylvania, has not experienced the revitalization that has transformed the city. From Weirton, West Virginia, to the west, Uniontown to the south, Johnstown to the east, and Sharon to the north, economic recovery has been, at best, uneven across the region. Apart from a few newer suburbs like Cranberry and some older revitalization projects, such as the Waterfront complex in Homestead, the region continues to be plagued by the long-term effects of deindustrialization and disinvestment. Along with underperforming schools, violence, and pollution—including, according to a recent report, lead contamination—the region still struggles with employment and population declines.
The Pittsburgh story, then, involves more than a shining city on many hills. As a case study for thinking about economic development and urban planning, we have to go beyond the city itself. If you drive out of the busy downtown, away from the academic neighborhoods, and past the new suburbs, you cannot help but see the remains of the troublesome legacy of deindustrialization. Deteriorating factories, empty parking lots, dilapidated housing, and vacant lots all bear witness to the continuing material and social costs of economic restructuring. Urbanists, developers, and politicians have much to learn by expanding their view of Pittsburgh.
Pete Saunders: Detroit emerges from the shunning
Pete Saunders: On the outside looking in
Belt Magazine: The seeds of rebirth in Gary
Crain’s Chicago: Converting four flats into single family homes – This goes back to what I argued in my essay comparing the Blues Brothers with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, that the creative class brought their suburban values into the city with them. Space is a key suburban value. However, while the 7,000 sq ft example here may be excessive, combining units to create more space is key to creating more housing for families in cities, especially where the housing stock is mostly small apartments.
Crain’s Chicago: Immigrants bypassing Chicago for other cities
Larry Littlefield: Brooklyn’s business boom, office edition
The Guardian: Have we reached Peak London?
The Guardian: Exodus from London
If this migration away from London is a canary in the coalmine for the vitality of the city, it is doubtful that many of us outside the city will shed many tears. For too long, brain drain to the capital has deprived the rest of the UK and its local economies of graduates and young people. Capital spending on infrastructure in London is 10 times higher than the East Midlands. HS3, the flagship railway line for the construction of the “northern powerhouse” hangs in the balance, while electrification plans for Sheffield and Cardiff have been shelved. Despite steps to remedy the inequality, Arts Council funding remains extraordinarily weighted in favour of London, and of the “high” culture institutions that are based there.
Andrew Manshel: The fear factor in public spaces
The Guardian: Tourism kills neighborhoods
Bloomberg: Nobody knows what lies beneath New York City
WSJ: Indiana project gives black eye to private investment in infrastructure – It’s not clear to me at all what the rationale was for using a P3 on this project in the first place. There’s nothing about the project itself that would seem to warrant something different than a typical project or design/build project.
WSJ: Wealthy benefactors put their money where their bikes go – Ken Griffen pays to improve Chicago’s lakefront trail.
Columbus Dispatch: City to give free bus passes to all downtown workers
Boston Globe: Pedestrian buttons in Boston don’t do anything
NYT: NYC subway problem isn’t just delays, but the many trains that never run at all
Nicole Gelinas: What’s really behind the MTA’s money woes?
NYT: De Blasio pushes for tax on wealthy to fix subways
Nicole Gelinas: The state is robbing the subways to buy Amtrak a new home
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Cover photo by Dmitry Avdeev, CC BY-SA 3.0