Is History Destiny?

Don’t tell anyone, but I recently abandoned my longstanding resistance to both podcasts and NPR and binge-listened to a bunch of Planet Money episodes on a couple of bus and plane trips where I couldn’t really focus my eyes on a screen. There was one about the difference in attitudes toward absenteeism in Northern and Southern Italy. Somewhat astoundingly, the most credible argument for why there is this difference extends back hundreds and hundreds of years. Continue reading

Hey, Albany, We Have a Land Bank

Albany has a lot of abandoned buildings and vacant lots, as most of us know. They can be an incredible drag on neighborhoods, inviting crime and disinvestment, and they represent a tremendous waste of potential, especially in neighborhoods that desperately lack many things, from community facilities to commercial. Many of them are locked in a horrible speculative cycle, bought by people looking to make a quick buck that either do not care about the neighborhoods or are unable to care for them, or often both. Continue reading