Archive | May, 2013

Americans and Their Military, Drifting Apart – NYTimes.com

27 May

For nearly two generations, no American has been obligated to join up, and few do. Less than 0.5 percent of the population serves in the armed forces, compared with more than 12 percent during World War II. Even fewer of the privileged and powerful shoulder arms. In 1975, 70 percent of members of Congress had some military service; today, just 20 percent do, and only a handful of their children are in uniform.

In sharp contrast, so many officers have sons and daughters serving that they speak, with pride and anxiety, about war as a “family business.” Here are the makings of a self-perpetuating military caste, sharply segregated from the larger society and with its enlisted ranks disproportionately recruited from the disadvantaged. History suggests that such scenarios don’t end well.

via Americans and Their Military, Drifting Apart – NYTimes.com.

Boom in Luxury Towers Is Warping New York Real Estate Market – NYTimes.com

19 May

“There are only two markets, ultraluxury and subsidized housing,” said Rafael Viñoly, the architect who designed the tower on Park Avenue at 56th Street, which is called 432 Park.

The rush to build these towers underscores the gap between rich and poor in New York City, said James Parrott, chief economist for the Fiscal Policy Institute, a liberal research organization supported by unions. He said that median family income in the city had fallen 8 percent since 2008.

“Manhattan’s superluxury condo boom, along with rocketing foreclosures in Queens and record homelessness, present an unobstructed view of accelerating polarization in this recovery,” Mr. Parrott said.

via Boom in Luxury Towers Is Warping New York Real Estate Market – NYTimes.com.

Jeffrey Sachs on the stubborn, pathological intransigence of the 1% | Exopermaculture

10 May

Sachs described an environment of Wall Street influencing politicians with growing campaign contributions. In the 2012 election cycle, political contributions by the securities and investment sector hit $271.5 million, compared with $176 million in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“I meet a lot of these people on Wall Street on a regular basis right now,” he continued.

“I am going to put it very bluntly: I regard the moral environment as pathological. And I am talking about the human interactions . . . I’ve not seen anything like this, not felt it so palpably.”

“They have no responsibility to pay taxes; they have no responsibility to their clients; they have no responsibility to people, to counterparties in transactions,” he said. “They are tough, greedy, aggressive and feel absolutely out of control in a quite literal sense, and they have gamed the system to a remarkable extent.”

via Jeffrey Sachs on the stubborn, pathological intransigence of the 1% | Exopermaculture.

The Coolest Earth Houses around the World

9 May

An earth house also known as an earth berm or an earth sheltered home is an architectural style characterized by the use of natural terrain to help form the walls of a house. An earth house is usually set partially into the ground and covered with thin growth. Modern earth houses are built with concrete walls and insulation. Earth houses are some of the most energy efficient.

via The Coolest Earth Houses around the World.

Math Models Seek to Prevent Network Failures | Simons Foundation

8 May

There’s a mathematical form to systems too big to succeed:

Three years ago, Stanley and his colleagues discovered the mathematics behind what he calls “the extreme fragility of interdependency.” In a system of interconnected networks like the economy, city infrastructure or the human body, their model indicates that a small outage in one network can cascade through the entire system, touching off a sudden, catastrophic failure.

First reported in 2010 in the journal Nature, the finding spawned more than 200 related studies, including analyses of the nationwide blackout in Italy in 2003, the global food-price crisis of 2007 and 2008, and the “flash crash” of the United States stock market on May 6, 2010.

“In isolated networks, a little damage will only lead to a little more,” said Shlomo Havlin, a physicist at Bar-Ilan University in Israel who co-authored the 2010 paper. “Now we know that because of dependency between networks, you can have an abrupt collapse.”

via Math Models Seek to Prevent Network Failures | Simons Foundation.