Category Archives: Space

Money and Health

My friend, Bryan Carroll, writing or The Daily Campus, UCONN’s news paper has covered a few stories that deal with education and health, his latest on the subject of John Dempsey Hospital, which has been bleeding in its own way for several years. Carroll writes

An ad-hoc committee with appointed facility of the engineering, nursing and business schools on the respected campuses could provide innovative solutions to streamline the business structure at John Dempsey. The collective partnership of the university community would foster public support (and subsequently legislative support) for the final plan.

I wonder how Dempsey could be streamlined in so fa as care and business balance out. Do any hospitals actually see an even balance sheet, no matter how well they’re run?

Likewise, any university, private pr public? These institutions are interesting, especially in the face of the opportunity and service they provide.

Soft News

Yet another article by Tom Condon on suburbia.

Suburbs have been developing for more than 100 years. A main problem with the explosive suburban growth after World War II, driven by such things as GI mortgages and cheap cars and gas, was its form. Low-density, auto-dependent sprawl might have made sense in an era of large families and 30-cent-a-gallon gas, but it is no longer sustainable. Burning fossil fuel is endangering the planet. Paving fields and forests is damaging the water supply. Sending people to exurban subdivisions is isolating them from other people.

Retrofitting the suburbs reduces car use, lowers household costs, increases time for social engagement and exercise, and improves air and water quality, the authors write. Between aging boomers and young “echo boomers,” there is an increasing market “for a more diverse selection of urban housing types and places.”

It’s good to keep up the voice on this, but there are very few examples of real spatial movement on the relations in CT. This is getting repetitious and soft. Where are the suburbs being retrofitted?


Hartford’s Watkinson’s Center for Science and Global Citizenship will be moving into a modular Project Frog building. Should be interesting. Here’s the Courant piece.

Then there’s weird reporting on a Mark Olfson study which went after the extent of disorders in young adults:

Olfson said it took time to analzye the data, including weighting the results to extrapolate national numbers. But the authors said the results would probably hold true today.

Interest and Effort

This NYT article on a test for athletic ability caught my interest:

In health-conscious, sports-oriented Boulder, Atlas Sports Genetics is playing into the obsessions of parents by offering a $149 test that aims to predict a child’s natural athletic strengths. The process is simple. Swab inside the child’s cheek and along the gums to collect DNA and return it to a lab for analysis of ACTN3, one gene among more than 20,000 in the human genome.

The test’s goal is to determine whether a person would be best at speed and power sports like sprinting or football, or endurance sports like distance running, or a combination of the two. A 2003 study discovered the link between ACTN3 and those athletic abilities.

I’m close to completing Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, which is a thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis of certain types of success, athletic, intellectual, and professional. Why is it thought provoking? Because I work knee deep in a world where success, ability, and knowledge are systematized by human decisions and traditional frameworks. Gladwell’s conclusions basically come down to a few key success factors: hard work, an ecology of opportunity, interest, and attention. I might have the speed gene, in other words. But I wasn’t really sized right for wide receiver. A yellow front tooth is proof that the playing field wasn’t for me. But I did have parents who could see beyond the neighborhood and they had lots of interesting books on the shelves.

Political Futures

Mary Glassman comes to some interesting conclusions:

Our town is not unique. Connecticut is more reliant on local property tax revenue to fund local education than any state in the nation. Our state contributes only 40 percent to our K-12 education, compared with other states such as Michigan, which contributes 78 percent. As a result, towns are forced to turn to the only revenue source available to them: the local property tax.

Funding education is not the only major challenge facing the state. Connecticut currently loses more young adults than any other state in the nation. That means that as our state population ages, there are fewer young people coming in to fill our jobs, buy our homes and purchase our goods and services.

Faced with these challenges, local and state elected officials must work together to create a long-term statewide plan that sets priorities, saves money and creates regional solutions.

In Connecticut and New England generally, regionalism is becoming more and more interesting, an idea that seeks to deeply link the fortunes of municipalities and states. It calls to attention, during these days where old paradigms will no longer provide answers to individuals wondering how they will fare in five years, the differences between theory and practice. Here’s what I mean by theory.

In another HC article, Jim Campbell offers advice to the GOP in how it can “come back,” providing a theoretical set of principles as a path, aiming at perceptions over realities. He writes

Second, it’s important to reassert the party’s traditional principles. Core Republican beliefs in lower taxes, fiscal responsibility and a strong national defense remain popular with most Americans, even as many have lost confidence in the GOP’s ability to govern. With Democrats back in power, they are already committed to an agenda that includes raising taxes on some and dramatically increasing spending. At the same time, it is hard to imagine that defense spending will rank as the new administration’s top priority.

In present contexts, none of the above hold contextual logic and amount to theoretical political science, as they always have. Lower taxes has never worked in practical terms, as Glassman shows above, and strong national defense must always come with qualifiers. What does “dramatically increasing” spending mean? Last week the auto industry travelled to Washington asking for bailout money. And why should national defense be a the “top priority” when the bricks are cracking at the local school?

Over the next few years we will be hearing a lot about “the parties” and why one is better than the other. Practical solutions will be on people minds. Not the great Platonic bridge. “I believe in lower taxes” in political framing is not quite a logical tautology but it’s pretty close.

World Changing’s Inaugurate Change

Worldchanging has a letter to President-elect Barack Obama:

With your help, we will show that the people of the United States are ready and willing to accept this challenge. And we will ask Obama to issue a call to action with an inaugural address that set specific goals to do the following:

* Set a national cap on greenhouse gas emissions
* Launch a national campaign to curb sprawl and encourage smart growth
* Set national building standards that will require all buildings to be carbon neutral by 2030
* Redirect all funding and support for fossil fuels into clean energy development
* Give policy support to small farms, local food, and better food quality in schools and low-income neighborhoods
* Take a leadership position in international climate, trade and development talks

Spreading the Digital

This may prove to be an interesting semester. In World Lit we talked a little about how we establish relationships with the physical world around us. It was a question that just popped into my head but after asking it, I felt one of those holes open that needs lots of filling.

We talked about the difference between trust and faith: do we have faith in or trust street lights and plastic bags? We don’t “believe” that the insides of sandwich bags are clean and good for bread. Do we trust that they are?

Genesis starting next week since the Book of the Dead is not included in the anth.

Local De-ruralizing

The title may not be accurate but energy is developing where I live, but then will things move? One of he major issues in CT is it’s relationship to up and coming brain power. Issue: the kids are leaving and may not come back. It’s pretty simple. High school graduates want to attend colleges outside the state. They will most likely move on for degrees in areas that have yet to develop or that will mature in some years, such as information tech and new sciences, and CT wont have opportunities for them to come back to to make a living.

Place is complicated. I’ve seen neighborhoods diminish for lack of opportunity. To question myself, it may be that people like me should have been more proactive about our places of origin. Where I grew up, the streets were loud with kids playing ball in the streets, we knew where not to go and who to watch, and we knew to whom those sneakers belonged (you know, the ones hanging from the power wires). Now, the old neighborhood bears little resemblance to what I’d known. For me, life did not move me back into my father’s home or into the neighborhood. I see the same thing coming in CT: when people leave, they take an energy with them. Those who stay have a tougher time innovating space because of human distribution. They don’t know the disposition of the dying neighborhoods.

Simsbury is in a position to innovate now. Will it?

Digitizing Reality

Now this is interesting:


Founded in 2006, Berkeley-based earthmine inc is a street-level, 3D mapping company that provides software and data as a service to those that need to relate information to places. The company is focused on indexing reality, creating a robust geospatial data mine of our urban environments that is accessed from the human perspective, and an order of magnitude more detailed and accurate than anything before.

For those who gather, analyze and communicate location-based information from a street-level perspective, earthmine solutions enable better informed and more effective geospatial decision making by delivering a highly accurate and realistic user experience that can be easily viewed, annotated, analyzed, measured and shared.

Why: examining street-level design and comparison.