On August 26, 2008, Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, touched down for a secret meeting on an aircraft carrier stationed in the Indian Ocean. The topic: Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The summit had been arranged the previous month. Mullen had grown anxious about the rising danger from Pakistan’s tribal areas, which Islamic militants were using as a base from which to strike American troops in Afghanistan and to plot terrorist attacks against the United States. He flew to Islamabad to see the country’s army chief of staff, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
A FRIEND RECENTLY TOLD me that his most important pedagogical tool as an architect is this maxim: the architect's primary ethical responsibility is to be the guardian of the public realm, in contrast to the myriad others who currently configure our built landscape— clients, politicians, contractors, developers, and NIMBY-driven "community action" committees.
For a long time now, whenever I've gone to Los Angeles, I've been alarmed by how impossibly tall the palm trees have grown. Whether I'm driving in Santa Monica or Venice, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, or Pasadena, the familiar sight of row after row of palm trees, their thin, fibrous trunks topped by rough-hewn, yet shimmering fronds stretching hundreds of feet into the broad, shadowless light, has come to fill me with gloom.