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May 2011 Links: Redevelopment Agencies, Word Dangers, Bribery, Education, Buildings, and More

* “Builders [in California] are lashing out against a provision in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget that would eliminate the state’s 425 redevelopment agencies, local authorities that pay for low-income housing as well as roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure.”

* Microsoft Word Now Includes Squiggly Blue Line To Alert Writer When Word Is Too Advanced For Mainstream Audience.

* Charging Ahead: To speed along the success of the electric car, improvements in battery chemistry will matter as much as the price of oil. The 1976 program referred to in this review is the one for which Isaac wrote the funded DOE electric vehicle grant in 1979 (see also No Experience, No Problem: Why Writing a Department of Energy (DOE) Proposal Is Not Hard For A Good Grant Writer).

* A Book in Every Home, and Then Some. Remember our post on the open secrets of grant writing.

* Neil Gaiman: Why defend freedom of icky speech?

* To reduce bribery, make it legal (on one side).

* Long After Microsoft, Allen and Gates Cast Shadows Over City, that city being Seattle.

* The educational value of booze. The evidence is weak but I like the conclusion anyway because it flatters my own prejudices.

* The Stockholm Syndrome Theory of Long Novels.

* The secret sex lives of teachers, which notes, “there is clearly something irresistible about teachers with decidedly adult extracurricular activities.”

* Squeezed Cities Ask Nonprofits for More Money.

* The problem with big, pretty projects in the context of the Three Cups of Tea scandal, as opposed to running those projects once you have them:

“Schools are really easy,” says Saundra Schimmelpfennig, whose organization, Good Intents, seeks to educate donors about nonprofits. “Any kind of a building is really easy to raise funding for, because it is something donors can wrap their minds around. They can see it. They can touch it. It is a one-time expense, not an ongoing or operational cost, which is harder to raise money for. But it is perhaps the least important part of education and the most inflexible as well. Spending all that money building schools is actually pretty questionable.”

This is also a problem Edward Glaeser discusses in “The Edifice Complex,” a chapter from The Triumph of the City:

The tendency to think that a city can build itself out of decline is an example of the edifice error, the tendency to think that abundant new building leads to urban success. Successful cities typically do build, because economic vitality makes people willing to pay for space and builders are happy to accommodate. But building is the result, not the cause, of success. Overbuilding a declining city that already has more structures than it needs is nothing but folly.

Remember: your organization is built out of people, not objects.

* Why we’ve reached the end of the camera megapixel race.

* Compton’s racial divide.

* Normally I think the day-to-day of politics is stupid and cruel, but some meta political commentary can be amusing, along the observation of hypocrisy. Like in this New York Times column: “What is it with Republicans lately? Is there something about being a leader of the family-values party that makes you want to go out and commit adultery?”