Why California's Salad Days Have Wilted


“Science,” wrote the University of California’s first President Daniel Coit Gilman, “is the mother of California.” In making this assertion, Gilman was referring mostly to finding ways to overcoming the state’s “peculiar geographical position” so that the state could develop its “undeveloped resources.”  read more »

Transit Ridership Increases: No Escape from New York


Transit ridership is increasing in the United States. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has reported that 10.8 billion trips were taken on transit in 2014, the largest number since 1956. With a more than 80% increase in gasoline prices since 2004, higher transit ridership was to be expected. However, it would be wrong to suggest the transit ridership is anywhere near its historic peak, nor that the increases have been broadly spread around the nation.  read more »

Is Suburbia Crashing? Suburban Traffic Myths Refuted

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Traffic crashes are a cause of ill health, impaired living or curtailed lifespan. Does city growth, in its sprawl-type outward expansion, increase the incidence of fatal and injurious crashes? This factor is the latest addition to numerous attempts to pin a correlation or causality linking traffic accidents with any number of causes.

The twentieth century is not the only time in city evolution at which traffic accidents became a concern. Around the end of nineteenth century, when all in-city transportation was hoof and foot-dependent, accidents in cities were common.  read more »

Calling Out the High-Tech Hypocrites


The recent brouhaha over Indiana’s religious freedom law revealed two basic things: the utter stupidity of the Republican Party and the rising power of the emerging tech oligarchy. As the Republicans were once again demonstrating their incomprehension of new social dynamics, the tech elite showed a fine hand by leading the opposition to the Indiana law.  read more »

Affordable Housing Maui Style


I was recently at a friend’s wedding on Maui. It was a beautiful ceremony in a magnificent location. The wedding was a week-long affair and the other guests were thrilled to enjoy the beach and sip drinks along the cascade of infinity pools at the resort. But I’m weird. I can’t sit still that long so I started to explore how the place works – not just the one resort, but the whole Maui tourist economy. First, I checked out real estate prices in the area. The cost of even the most modest homes and apartments are off the charts expensive.  read more »

Shades of Red and Blue Across Counties Show Surprising Balance


We cannot escape the reality of a polarized America, given the current level of rhetorical and real political gridlock. And maps are frequently invoked to illustrate that this polarization is also geographic, with clear-cut Red and Blue territories.

Clearly there are large areas of extreme polarization, and we will show them. But there are also more balanced kinds of counties which vote not consistently with one side. These contested areas are more extensive than people likely believe or the media proclaim. This is healthy for the nation.  read more »

Asian Augmentation


California, our beautiful, resource-rich state, has managed to miss both the recent energy boom and the renaissance of American manufacturing. Hollywood is gradually surrendering its dominion in a war of a thousand cuts and subsidies. California’s poverty rate – adjusted for housing costs – is the nation’s worst, and much of the working class and lower middle class is being forced to the exits. Our recent spate of high-tech growth has created individual fortunes, but few jobs, outside the Bay Area.  read more »

Can Hipsters Save Providence?


Providence regularly lands on the lists of top hipster cities and top hipster colleges for its cool factor, having earned plaudits from Travel and Leisure to Buzzfeed for live music, coffee shops, and hip culture.  

But can hipsters save Providence?  read more »


Big Box Urbanism


I’m ambivalent about big box stores. I occasionally shop at places like Walmart, Costco, and Target just like most people. I buy various packaged goods in bulk from these mega retailers to take advantage of a volume discount. I don’t moralize over these things. But when it comes to meat, dairy, and fresh produce I walk around the corner or down the street to my local mom and pop stores, farmers market, or Community Supported Agriculture plan. I’m fine with buying a pallet of inexpensive toilet paper that was manufactured on an industrial scale. Chicken? Not so much.  read more »

The House of the Future Will be Solid-State

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Housing will take a great leap forward when the house becomes married to the concept of solid-state. This revolution will begin when solid-state – i.e., no moving parts – becomes meshed into notion of shelter; ergo, the solid state house. This will be the housing of the future.  read more »