Here’s some of these week’s most interesting & enjoyable articles, culled by the Fare Forward team. Inclusion on this list does not indicate agreement with the article’s content. Be sure to check out this week’s Fare Forward blog posts for more commentary and analysis.
So, there can be real value in open-mindedness, empathy, tolerance, and fairness, and a wise man will acknowledge this. But it is crucial to see that their value is instrumental. They are of secondary value, of significance precisely insofar as they facilitate the acquisition of wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice.
The interesting thesis of Invisible Men is that the government, through the means it uses to record, analyze and ultimately see the population it governs, systematically misses incarcerated people. This biases various policy debates, as researchers build their arguments off these records. This is particularly important for some serious ongoing debates, like gaps between blacks and whites in earnings or labor-force participation, or the high-school dropout rate. This missing population also means that a variety of research agendas, from political participation to family structure, are also lacking an analytical mechanism for understanding how the large increase in incarcerated populations are impacting the topics.
Leinberger and Alfonzo say this trend poses “a serious social equity issue.” Living in walkable neighborhood brings a slew of health and economic benefits. It also means life takes less time: commutes are shorter, trips to the grocery store are easier, going to the park requires almost no effort. Often, living in a more “walkable” neighborhood actually requires less walking: Everything a person needs might be located within a two- or three-block radius instead of a 10-block one. Life is just easier. There’s no reason that these benefits should be reserved for wealthier Americans.
The imperfections that Hazony faults God with — His apparent mind-changes, His surprise at our evil, His decision not to force the Israelites into every right action (which, for the record, does not imply an imperfectly powerful God, merely a God who grants us freedom. An army is powerful even if not in battle, and a God may be all-powerful even if he does not exert that power at the expense of our free will) — these are not imperfections, but the perfect method of relating to his people at the time his people lived
The point is this: the extent that regional food culture gets more sophisticated — by which I mean not simply fancier, but broader, and more varied — is the extent to which we become more French. That is, the extent to which we pay more attention to our food, and think about it, and talk about it. It used to be the case in our country when nobody talked much about beer, or thought about it. Beer was beer. That’s no longer the case, of course, but it’s interesting to think about who drinks craft beer. I don’t know if I know anybody over 55 who does; Bud Light, Miller Lite, etc., are fine for them. It’s the younger people who have a taste for the more adventuresome stuff. It’s the younger people that the new local craft breweries are appealing to.
We have written previously on the Placemaking Blog about how dangerous social conditions produce alienating public spaces in developing world cities, especially for women. In Kibera, the desire for a safe and welcoming space for the community very clearly influences recommendations for everything from comfort to accessibility. A variety of Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper improvements are included in an as-yet-unpublished report detailing recommendations generated through the Placemaking process, with many of them focused specifically on creating a safe space for people to gather. From using fences to define the perimeter of the site (and designate entrance and exit points), to programming the space, very intentionally, with local security meetings and social programs focused on youth and good parenting, the focus on safety plays a critical role.
My point is that the way you process information about a thing affects the way you think about the thing, inevitably. If you have this tool that lets you analyze baseball and politics and hurricanes in the same way, then doesn’t your brain start to perceive those things as just different types of content to fill an identical form of thought? That’s what the Internet does; it turns your whole life into a data-retrieval and organization problem. It doesn’t matter what’s going on, whether it’s the Champions League final or an earthquake or a war, you’ve got Twitter open, you’re cataloging the exact same dumb jokes and memes and waiting for the exact same second-by-second updates. I do it, too; half the time I’ve already formulated the exact phrasing of the Google search I’m going to run about something before I’ve even finished taking in what that something is.