I probably already linked to these articles on Twitter, but if you don’t follow that stuff, this is new to you. These are the ones that stuck with me:
City Journal: The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris , 2002:
But there is another growing, and much less reassuring, side to France. I go to Paris about four times a year and thus have a sense of the evolving preoccupations of the French middle classes. A few years ago it was schools: the much vaunted French educational system was falling apart; illiteracy was rising; children were leaving school as ignorant as they entered, and much worse-behaved. For the last couple of years, though, it has been crime: l’insécurité, les violences urbaines, les incivilités. Everyone has a tale to tell, and no dinner party is complete without a horrifying story. Every crime, one senses, means a vote for Le Pen or whoever replaces him.
N+1: Raise the Crime Rate, 2012
From 1980 to 2007, the number of prisoners held in the United States quadrupled to 2.3 million, with an additional 5 million on probation or parole. What Ayn Rand once called the “freest, noblest country in the history of the world” is now the most incarcerated, and the second-most incarcerated country in history, just barely edged out by Stalin’s Soviet Union. We’re used to hearing about the widening chasm between the haves and have-nots; we’re less accustomed to contemplating a more fundamental gap: the abyss that separates the fortunate majority, who control their own bodies, from the luckless minority, whose bodies are controlled, and defiled, by the state.
NYTimes: A Payoff Out of Poverty, 2008
The elegant idea behind the program — give the poor money that will allow them to be less poor today, but condition it on behaviors that will give their children a better start in life — is called conditional cash transfers, and the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank promote it heavily. At least 30 countries have now adopted Oportunidades, most of them in Latin America, but not all: countries now using or experimenting with some form of conditional payments include Turkey, Cambodia and Bangladesh. Last year, officials from Indonesia, South Africa, Ethiopia and China contacted or visited Mexico to investigate.
Despite these upsides, in an America enraptured by the cultural prosthesis that is the automobile, walking has become a lost mode, perceived as not a legitimate way to travel but a necessary adjunct to one’s car journey, a hobby, or something that people without cars—those pitiable “vulnerable road users,” as they are called with charitable condescension—do. To decry these facts—to examine, as I will in this series, how Americans might start walking more again— may seem like a hopelessly retrograde, romantic exercise: nostalgia for Thoreau’s woodland ambles. But the need is urgent. The decline of walking has become a full-blown public health nightmare.
Co.Design: Can You Get People To Walk More, Simply With Smart Signage?, 2012
The larger goal of this project is to create healthy places for people–socially, economically, and environmentally,” he says. So how does it work? Walk [Your City] is an open-source platform where people can create their own “guerilla wayfinding” signs that state the time it takes to wander from any given point A to point B. The locations on the original Walk Raleigh were “deliberate,” Tomasulo says. “We wanted to reach different demographics–downtown business people, university students, and people going to the grocery store–with a collection of recognizable places and cultural assets that are perceived to be much further away from each other than they really are.