Another Rig Explosion In The Gulf
September 02, 2010

Not good. Some updates from CNN: An oil rig has exploded 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana… The accident took place 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana on the Vermilion Oil rig 380, which is owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough tells CNN that all 13 workers involved in the rig explosion are accounted for, but one person is injured.

Time to Write Off New Orleans?
August 30, 2010

President Obama's speech in New Orleans on Sunday, commemorating the fifth anniversary of Katrina, didn't have one clear message so much as two. The city has rebuilt and, in some ways, rebuilt itself into something better. But a lot of work, too much work, remains unfinished. If you read my dispatches from New Orleans two weeks ago, then you know that was the impression I, too, took away. One question that Obama didn't address was "why"--as in "why bother"? From the first days after the storm, people began asking whether it was time just to give up on New Orleans.

Texastential Crisis
August 17, 2010

Rick Perry should be riding high. Chasing his third full term as governor of Texas, Perry is a blood-red conservative running in a blood-red state in a blood-red cycle. In April of last year, he cheered a bill in the statehouse aimed at reasserting Texas’s sovereign rights against an “oppressive” federal government. A few days later, he began publicly musing about how, in its struggle against tyranny, Texas might find it necessary to secede.

Young Rebels
August 12, 2010

The Sicilian Girl Music Box Films Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child Arthouse Films Long ago it expanded into other places, but to think of the Mafia is to think first of Sicily. Partly, of course, this is because of the many films about the Sicilian Mafia, so many that they constitute a genre, and none of which, as far as I have seen, has been less than good. Now comes The Sicilian Girl, which sustains the genre in expected and unusual ways. The expected ways, shamefully gripping, are, as always, the threats and businesslike killing.

More Justification Of The Electoral College
July 30, 2010

A couple days ago I opined that defenses of the electoral college seem to be driven by two factors: A partisan Republican desire not to retroactively delegitimize George W. Bush's 2000 election, and a general attachment to the status quo.

How to Increase U.S. Exports
July 28, 2010

In the national conversation on trade policy, it’s rare to get beyond exchange rates and trade agreements. While these are certainly important topics in their influence on the volume and balance of trade, the focus relegates the debate to federal policy and misses a myriad of opportunities at the state, local, and metropolitan level to promote exports. So what do exports look like on the ground level?

Suburban Spies Among Us
July 02, 2010

The revelation that suspected Russian spies have been hiding in the suburbs of major U.S. cities has been regarded by some as a throw back to postwar Cold War novels replete with money drop-offs, hidden identities, and old school technology.  Perhaps the most telling aspect of these Russians’ retro status is their attempt to “fit in” with a suburbia that no longer exists. At least eight of these alleged spies were classic suburbanites replete with dogs, families, or suburban jobs which could be part of any 1950s “welcome wagon” contingent.

On the Map: America’s Shifting Commuting Choices
July 01, 2010

Brookings’ comprehensive State of Metropolitan America report focuses on the demographic and social trends shaping the nation today. That’s population, race and ethnicity, income, education and the like. But we’re also lucky enough to have data from the U.S. Census on commuting patterns.

Lakers Up, Kobe Down
June 18, 2010

[This is a guest post by Isaac Chotiner] The NBA season came to a particularly satisfying conclusion last night with the Lakers' 83-79 win over an aging Celtics squad. What could be better than seeing a Boston sports team lose, while simultaneously witnessing a completely pathetic effort from Kobe Bryant, the most unlikeable NBA star of the decade? For only the third time in 25 years, the series went seven games, and it was nice to be reminded of how exciting Game 7's are for viewers, even those who don't have a huge rooting interest in the contest.

June 18, 2010

                    Items worth reading from around the web: Comings and goings: Forbes magazine has a nifty online tool that shows county migration patterns based on IRS data. The numbers are from 2008, however, and don’t take into full account the migration stagnation that has occurred since the onset of the recession. One thing that probably remains true is the status of Texas as a migration magnet--click on Harris (Houston), Travis (Austin), and Dallas counties--due to its relatively decent economic performance over the last year.