When I read the solution offered by Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the National Rifle Association, to the ever-growing number of massacres at schools—that we need “good guys” with guns to protect us from “bad guys” with guns—I initially thought he was joking, a bad joke, yet joking nonetheless.
Architecture occupies a peculiar place in the life of democratic societies. Most buildings get built because some private concern, an individual or a corporate entity, commissions it. Because procuring land and constructing buildings is expensive, the private concerns that do so typically enjoy the benefits of wealth, which include social and political influence in excess of the democratic credo of one man, one vote. Yet architecture, or most of it anyway, is a public good: what any one person or institution builds, others must live with, and often for a very long time.
IN THE HISTORY OF election forecasting, 2012 was 1936 all over again, with the roles updated. In 1936, a trio of new forecasters—Elmo Roper, Archibald Crossley, and George Gallup—used statistical sampling methods and predicted that Franklin D. Roosevelt would win re-election, contrary to the best-known “straw poll” of the time, conducted by The Literary Digest. The Digest mailed ballots to millions of automobile owners and telephone subscribers, groups that in the midst of the Depression drastically over-represented Republicans.
For the past twenty-plus years, The Martha Stewart Empire (not its real name, of course, but who doesn’t think of it that way?)—led by their taupe pant-suited leader—has dutifully monitored the cult of domesticity. The media has gleefully followed Martha’s ups and downs. With recent news of major financial blunders, Martha Stewart may be down, but don’t count her out.