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Cement works

Recent cement works this summer.  These are experiments with ordinary concrete.
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The future of college towns

The college town, one of America’s most appealing and unique features, grew out of the Age of Reason, and the concept of a regional, liberal-arts college nurtured by a small town has been intertwined with American history.  Today, with enrollment dropping, the small, private college[R1] seems to be going the same way as the typewriter, the newspaper and the independent bookstore. While some colleges struggle to survive, the institution of the college town lives in suspended animation, ready to support whatever form its, major employer may take.  One thing’s for sure:  the reinvention of the post-college town is coming.
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When density is destructive

Brick streets, mature old oaks, and a sense of history imbue Winter Park, Florida with a sense of place that is the envy of many small cities and towns.  The tony Park Avenue brings shoppers and visitors, who soak up its ambience and enjoy the street life of this quaint southern town.  On the east side, bounded by blue lakes, lie gentrified historical mansions, while the west side is a neighborhood of smaller, affordable homes with multigenerational Winter Parkers.  This community of little single-family homes is now endangered by developers that are gobbling up parcels two and three at a time, increasing the density threefold, and squeezing out residents in a new, “zoning for dollars” economic climate.
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The new ancien regime

Over the past several months, I have sipped from 18th and 19th century literature, as well as social critique.  This was sparked by Piketty’s read of novels from earlier eras, and what they said about the economics of the time.  While his interpretation offers a glimpse into the finance of the coming times, it seems to be even less than a full picture of the larger sweeping arc of history that we may be witnessing at this time.  What began as a slowly gathering momentum towards freedom of thought and social liberalism peaked about 1950-1970, and has slid remarkably quickly since then.  This slide appears to be heading into a new era that resembles the ancien regime period with a new aristocracy and a dwindling bourgeoisie.  The outlines of this new period are beginning to take shape in the mists.
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Are there any best places anymore?

A colleague recently confessed a desire to leave his home state and move to Texas.  He felt  that "for 50 years, California was easily the best place to live in the world" but now feels that it is no longer so.  And that Texas is better.  Recently, many friends and colleagues have confessed a desire to escape to a better place, and it begs the question:  are there any best places anymore?
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What comes next

[caption id="attachment_1145" align="alignleft" width="264" caption="Neofeudal city by Terra Politica"][/caption] For those on the Picketty train, a gloomy scenario is painted fairly clearly.  We are entering an age of slow growth, one where little change in status is possible no matter how hard one works, or how brilliant one's ideas might be.  We are entering an age like the Belle Epoque, the 19th century Gilded Age where the top ten percent own virtually everything, and make their  living by renting it to others.  They rent their money to the government, the land to the proles, and live off the rental income, or interest, or whatever it is called in the various income streams they have fashioned for themselves.  The rest of us, in the meantime, have only the sweat off our backs, or our brows, to sell.