About Me

Currently a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, I study urban sociology and inequality. Originally from Western Pennsylvania, I am particularly interested in how changes in regional economic structures effect stratification and mobility opportunities, particularly for the working class. I also participate in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Interesting Links, 9/7/2011

I am a big fan of sending mail.  There is something great about being able to send something real and tangible to a friend or family member a long ways away. Plus I run the coolest postcard blog on the internet.  So, I worry about the financial health of the Postal Service.  This article explores five things the postal service could do to improve it's bottom line.  I think #5, "increase retail" is a great idea that needs to be explored more.  First of all, public space is terribly limited in many urban areas.  For example, we have town centers that really are neither.  So, why not allow Starbucks to set up a coffee shop and offer free internet access at the post office?  Turn it into a public space that offers a diversity of services.  Maybe food trucks could stop by, which could reduce food deserts in some neighborhoods.  If there is not already a public park nearby, perhaps a small park could roll up for a couple of hours, giving post office customers a space in which to take a break. Doesn't this sound like a post office you would be more likely to visit?

So, in Pittsburgh and the world, Carnegie Mellon University is kinda a big deal.  It seems a donation by businessman and philanthropist is going to ensure that CMU becomes an even bigger deal, as the donation is among the top 15 donations to higher education worldwide.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is really white.  Most residents realize this, some rightfully complain about it.  The thing that this demonstrates to me, though, is how stable the labor force is.  And on balance, that is probably a bad thing, as the city needs to attract skilled talent from other places, in addition to cultivating skilled talent that will stay.  Hopefully the donation mentioned above can help on both sides of that agenda.

Speaking of being white, sometimes white folks encounter great difficulties, and seem to lose perspective.  Here is a blog working to bring some "first world" problems back into perspective.

We may want to have a real conversation about limiting the number of offspring a single sperm donor can contribute toward.  150 is a lot.

Ever feel like the return trip goes faster?  I do. Whether mountain biking or on a road trip, it always seems faster to come home then to go whereever I am going.  Here is a consideration of that phenomena.  I will say, sometimes the return trip seems awfully slow. For me, this has happened late at night on the way home from a concert out of town, and sometimes on the way back from PA to SC. But that might just be because PA still feels like home in my heart, or because as I'm heading toward SC a new semester looms over the destination.  These thoughts, and a few other sources of inspiration, have me putting together a mix of songs about driving and road trips.

On the topic of leaving town, the Hollowing Out the Middle project is good work.  I have heard and seen the sentiment over and over in small towns - folks there give their best to the young people who are going to leave town.  Often, the ones who stick around are the ones who received the least attention as children and students.  The drive to move toward densely populated urban areas is certainly understandable, championed by proponents of the city like Edward Glaeser.  But, like the STAY project in Appalachia which I have blogged about before, we may need to rethink how we invest in our smaller communities.

Finally, and on this theme, here is a 90's rock song that laments someone leaving a small town, rather than the typical trope of celebrating the freedom of escaping a small town: