The “Tech Class” Reifies the “Two Americas”

The wealth created by tech companies is, if not beyond precedent, is probably beyond most of our comprehension. It is not without precedent because America has already experienced one Gilded Age. It’s merely started another, and we’re well into it. Continue reading


Public Housing Should Be Part of the Recovery

The poor continue struggling to find affordable housing. It seems especially acute in certain areas I’ve read about recently, areas going through drastic economic and racial demographic changes such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Washington DC. It seems to me that an expansion of federally-funded public housing should have had a larger role to play during the present on-going recovery. It certainly helped during the Great Depression, World War II, and postwar periods.

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The Way I See It: Two Lessons from the AHA’s History PhD Study

In case you don’t follow everything the American Historical Association  does (for my pals over in English Literature, the AHA is history’s MLA), the organization released a study of history PhDs who received their degrees between 1998 and 2009. First, let me say that I was pleasantly surprised overall. I don’t think the study warrants the one-liner offered by the authors–that no PhDs “occupied the positions that often serve as punch lines for jokes . . . as baristas or short-order cooks”–cause that’s a pretty damn low bar you’re setting. For me, there are two overriding take-aways: one for history (and humanities) faculty and the other for employers at large.

Visualization of the jobs held by folks who got their PhD between 1998 and 2009

Visualization of the jobs held by folks who got their PhD between 1998 and 2009

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The American Dream with a Few Rough Edges

 An Exhibit Review of The Ohio Historical Society’s “1950s: Building the American Dream”

“What lessons do we learn from Anne Frank?” So reads the first sentence of Edward Rothstein’s recent New York Times review of the new Anne Frank Exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. The sentence is striking because it captures the primary mission of today’s museum: instruction. And, perhaps more than ever before, that educating is done with a heavy amount of text. I still have strained childhood memories of waiting for my sister and mom to hurry-up and finish reading every last thing at an exhibit so we could continue through the whole  museum (of course, I should thank them for that now that I’m older and wiser). While I have not had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank exhibit, it sounds like the diary itself—and the text inside it—is the main attraction holding the various pieces together. The exhibit certainly appears to have an instructional goal in mind, which is even captured in the museum’s name. This style of presentation is mirrored in the recently opened “1950s: Building the American Dream” exhibit at the Ohio Historical Society, even while the two exhibit topics differ greatly. Continue reading

Chicago’s Messed Up “Public” School Situation

After sitting on it for a couple weeks (well, more than a couple…), I suppose now’s as good as ever to being my musings on the current state of “public” K-12 education in Chicago. (Why the “quotes”? We’ll get to that.) Over the course of this summer, the city government has decided to close some 50 under-attended public schools. Next, and which is a pretty sneaky move, the district is hiring Teach for America instructors to replace those teachers that were fired when the schools were closed. And lastly, the district has decided to open at least 4 new charters (since, apparently, the schools weren’t that under-attended). All of this gives off an unpleasant aroma. Continue reading

On Gentrification

Just a quick followup about a point that Matthew Yglesias has been making lately: the best way to make housing affordable is to make a lot of it.

I wanted to relate this to gentrification. There is, quite reasonably, a lot of concern about the negative impacts of gentrification, and (relatedly) a push in lots of places for local governments to establish more affordable housing for folks with low income. Alternatively, we could ignore all of that, and go the other direction: overpower the NIMBYs and allow developers to build skyscraping apartment buildings in the richest parts of cities. Continue reading

“Todavía existen. Todavía estamos aquí.”

Around this time last year I asked my then five year old cousin what Christopher Columbus did: “He sailed her on the Mayflower and ate dinner with the Indians!” Wrong. For so many reasons. Today the United States government is recognizing Columbus Day—there are parades, some people get time and a half, and kindergarteners across the land are learning all sorts of lies. That’s the thing though, they are learning all sorts of lies. We are celebrating lies. I don’t think that it would be too difficult to find enough people not interested in celebrating imperialism, genocide, racism, and rape to swear off the holiday forever. So why don’t we? Continue reading