Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blogger Lit or Meet the Urbloggers

What Bloggers Owe Montaigne

November 12, 2010 | by Sarah Bakewell

The weekend newspapers are full of them. Our computer screens are full of them. They go by different names—columns, opinion pieces, diaries, blogs—but personal essays are alive and well in the twenty-first century. They flourish just as they did in James Thurber’s and E. B. White’s twentieth-century New York, or in the nineteenth-century London of William Hazlitt and Charles Lamb. There seems no end to the appeal of the essayist’s basic idea: that you can write spontaneously and ramblingly about yourself and your interests, and that the world will love you for it.

No end—but there was a beginning. The essay tradition blossomed in English-speaking countries only after being invented by a sixteenth-century Frenchman, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne. His contemporary, the English writer Francis Bacon, also used the title Essays, but his were well-organized intellectual inquiries. While Bacon was assembling his thoughts neatly, the self-avowedly lazy nobleman and winegrower Montaigne was letting his run riot on the other side of the Channel. In his Essais (“Attempts”), published in 1580 and later expanded into larger editions, he wrote as if he were chatting to his readers: just two friends, whiling away an afternoon in conversation.

Without hesitation or combing through the classics (maybe later), I nominate Montaigne, essays published in 1580, as likeliest candidate for 'first among urbloggers.' Montaigne's invention, the literary form of essay, a short subjective treatment of a given topic, is the made-for-blogging genre, just as aphorisms are for tweeting.

Fast forwarding to the Enlightenment, salons and London Coffee House culture, writers there would have taken to blogging like second nature and put us all to shame.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Extolling the Benefits of Local Holiday Shopping

local holiday shopping photo

Photo: Wellington
Mountainair may not be the South Carolina of the story below but does share similar needs and concerns. The basic equations and elements are the same: jobs, gross revenue tax maintain public services and facilities, dollars back into the community. If anything, "shop local" is even more crucial here ~ but also more problematic.

We have heard time and time again about the importance of shopping locally but with theholiday season just around the corner it becomes more important than ever. But dollar for dollar what does choosing a local retailer mean for your community? When push comes to shove, it's a lot more than wasting fossil fuels on goods flown in. Local shopping puts dollars into your community and keeps the stores that make your community unique in business.

This year my Columbia, S.C. community is making a big push toward shopping locally this holiday season. And in a town where each week I watch a local store go bankrupt due to a difficult economy and huge retail competition, this is a long time coming.

According to an article in The State,

BuySC.org, a website from the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce, lets consumers search for local retailers by county or category. Listings for businesses are free but can be upgraded for a fee.

And shopping at smaller retailers benefits your community more than you may know. When you spend $100 at a local store, $45 of those dollars stay in your community but when you spend $100 at a multinational store only $13 of those dollars stay in your economy. And what's more, if you want local choice, you have to support these stores or they won't last. While up front your costs may be a bit more, supporting your local economy means more jobs, more choice, and the opportunity to support the ideals that you find important with your dollars.

Parnick Jennings, co-founder of the Bartow Business Connection, detailed the sobering facts of local patronage.

If we don't [shop locally], come the first of the year some of our friends are not going to be in business -- I fear that. Last year, there were several that because they did not generate enough business during the holidays, which is the major time they make their money, they won't be here.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Virtually, Spain

Left in Europe

From Geocurrents, a special series on the nation, nationalities, and autonomous regions in Spain, including the nation/nationality of Catalonia, the contested regionalism in Andalusia, Leon, and Asturias, the paradoxes of Basque politics, the parallel paths of the Basque County and Scotland, the Basques of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and a look at Spain and the fallacy of the nation-state.

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urbanites and their cities

Andrey Korotayev (RSU): The World System Urbanization Dynamics: A Quantitative Analysis. William A. Fischel (Dartmouth): The Evolution of Zoning Since the 1980s: The Persistence of Localism. Urban-rural divide no more: An increasing number of urban dwellers are retreating to the country — and taking the city with them. Witold Rybczynski, author of Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities, on the cities we want (and part 2 — and a review). Could the increasingly complex systems needed to manage the next generation of megacities become our first true artificial intelligence? An interview with Saskia Sassen: Forget London and New York, the rest of the world should want to be the next Miami. A review of The Wealth and Poverty of Regions: Why Cities Matter by Mario Polese. Boosters still maintain that big cities remain unique centers for social uplift, but evidence suggests this is increasingly no longer the case. From New Geography, Zachary Neal on why city size does not matter much anymore. How to shrink a city: Not every great metropolis is going to make a comeback — planners consider some radical ways to embrace decline. Megacities: Here is Foreign Policy's guide to the coming urban age. From H-Net, a review of books on North African and Middle Eastern cities. How will climate change impact urbanites and their cities? Matthew Kahn on his book Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future. Alphabet City: What does a city’s signage tell you about its character? The introduction to Noir Urbanisms: Dystopic Images of the Modern City. Sustainable urban mobility in 2020: To make the car of the future, we need to make the city of the future. Here is a radical public transportation solution straight out of a sci-fi novel.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

unlikely to go anywhere

Wolfgang Nedobity (Vienna): Casanova and the Italian Taste. The world is lousy with aspiring novelists who will probably never be published; Alix Christie offers insight into what keeps them working. From The Chronicle, apes and monkeys, dogs and cats are being unnecessarily confined, vivisected, and killed while animal advocates are ignored as a lunatic fringe; the cruelty of much animal experimentation cannot be justified on scientific grounds, because it has proved largely unproductive; and letter-writing campaigns may ease consciences, but they won't cure diseases. David Weigel on Pete Peterson's unserious campaign to get America to think seriously about the national debt. Annie Lowrey on why the deficit commission's proposal is unlikely to go anywhere. Moral judgments in social dilemmas: How bad is free riding? Die, Phone Book, Die: After a decade of obsolescence, the local phone directory is finally getting the chop as states wise up to reality. Hope, change, reality: Attorney General Eric Holder entered the Justice Department on a mission to reinvent it — unfortunately, Washington doesn't like an idealist. Year-end best-of lists can make for predictable reading — does anyone not know that Jonathan Franzen wrote the big novel of 2010? Instead, Bookforum asked the authors of our favorites to tell us what they liked reading this year. In the grip of the new monopolists: Do away with Google, break up Facebook? We can't imagine life without them — and that's the problem. Fool's Gold: Why the idea of a gold standard is best relegated to the dustbin of history (and more). Are we hardwired to love taxes? Jonah Lehrer on feeling rich, poor or overtaxed. Why conspiracy theorists think The Simpsons may have predicted 9/11. Police State 2010: A series on American MP's in Kandahar. Bringing the coffin industry back from the dead: How barcodes and touch screens are resuscitating a casket factory.

another interesting, semi-themed collection of annotated links from Omnivore, the Book Forum blog, xblogged to flâneuse, arts and places ("nowhere" is a place, isn't it? An "unplace" at the very least.

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