Archive for the 'Society' Category


Antwerp’s diamond district and the lure

Antwerp’s Diamond District is a three block area that holds eighty percent of the worlds diamonds. On top of that imagine an industry where three-quarters of everyday business is under the table and your bound to have some action. That’s why our love for a good  hiest story has played the setting in countless novels, movies, and TV shows.  So read here for the World’s Biggest Heist.

In 2003 Leonardo Notarbatolo was accused of organizing a ring of Italian thieves to break into a vault two floors beneath the Diamond Center.  Notabatolo was released from prison this week after serving some six years behind bars.

They had executed the plan perfectly: no alarms, no police, no problems. The heist wouldn’t be discovered until guards checked the vault on Monday morning. The rest of the team was already driving back to Italy with the gems. They’d rendezvous outside Milan to divvy it all up. There was no reason to worry.


did we have it right after all?

A great column discussing how the so called slacker generation may hold the key to a more sustainable economic future. Not recession proof, but recession-resilient.

WE MOVED to San Francisco and Brooklyn and Mission Hill. We jumped from job to job. Put off marriage. Never bought a place. And we never heard the end of it. We were drifters, they said. Layabouts. No respect for work and real estate or the value of a good pair of cufflinks.

You see, while Alan Greenspan and Countrywide Financial were creating a capitalism of disastrous excess, we were busy working on a more workable model. We brought you the Internet, worked on green technology, and filled the ranks of Teach for America. We crossed the color line, ate local produce, and bought secondhand clothing. We lived in smaller spaces, drove smaller cars, and took the subway to work.

As we begin to rebuild our tattered economy it may be time well spent studying how the  slacker generation managed to live within their means. Read on via Boston Globe.

Penelope Trunk’s 5 emerging trends..I’ve already begun to notice the increasing backlash against baby boomers.


Jimmy Carter fact of the day

When Jimmy Carter signed Senate Amendment 3534 in 1978 he single-handedly revolutionized the American brewing industry. A portion of the amendment gave each household permission to produce up to 200 gallons of tax-exempt beer each year.

The American public had decided it liked its beer cheap, bland, and less filling, and the industry—which, after decades of consolidation, consisted of a mere 44 breweries in 1979.

Three decades later, the U.S. boasts 1,463 breweries, including 975 brewpubs. Bud Light and its analogs still dominate the market, but even your corner market may have at least a few selections to tempt the palate of Joe Microbrew: summer ales, double bocks, black lagers, maybe even a honey orange wheat ale.

Read the article here…Way to go Jimmy.


untouched east german flat discovered

A flat apparently untouched since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 has been uncovered in the German town of Leipzig. An architect apparently renovating flats stumbled upon the East German time-warp, with the calender reading “August 1988.” Previous residents seemed to have left the flat in a rush. Leaving rolls, Vita Cola, Marella margarine, Juwel cigarettes and a bottle of Kristall vodka strewn about the kitchen.

It appears the inhabitant of the humble flat fled in a hurry and shrivelled bread rolls still lay in a string bag. The only foreign product to be found was a West German bottle of deodorant.

Read on here, via BBC.


Migration controls are the new apartheid

As technologies advance and more efficient transportation methods develop, we can only assume migration controls would only begin to weaken. The idea of abolishing national boarders isn’t as far-fetched as one may believe. Europe’s Schengen Agreement, which allows residents of participating countries to travel more easily through their borders, is just one example of how free-market forces have begun to dissolve national boundaries.

It has always struck me as odd that we are so keen to allow the flow of cash and goods across borders without let or hindrance, but try so hard to deny the same rights to people. That is both unfair and a denial of the free-market theories on which much of the world’s economy is built. Surely if free trade and the free movement of capital is so good for an efficient global economy, then the same should apply to the free movement of labour?

Continue reading Fred Pearce’s article Migration controls are the new apartheid, via New Scientist.


Nouveau Poor

Times are tough and analyst only predict tougher times ahead for 2009: Chronically Indigent Resent Influx of Nouveau Poor

Closely connected to the political landscape, the recently struggling pornography industry is asking for a $5 billion federal bailout. Video producers, directors, technical crew, and onscreen talent warn that the Government’s failure to invest could force many professionals onto the streets.


demographic inversion

This is the generation that grew up watching “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” and “Sex and the City,” mostly from the comfort of suburban sofas. We have gone from a sitcom world defined by “Leave It to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” to one that offers a whole range of urban experiences and enticements.

They are drawn to the densely packed urban life that they saw on television and found vastly more interesting than the cul-de-sac world they grew up in. And, by and large, I believe central cities will give it to them.

We will never return–nor would most of us want to return–to the close-knit but frequently constricting form of community life that prevailed 50 years ago. But, as we rearrange ourselves in and around many of our big cities, we are groping toward the new communities of the twenty-first century.

Deindustrialization, lower crime rates, higher gas prices, and a young population adopting different lifestyles than their parents have contributed to the general flight from today’s car-dependent surbia and into urban environments. Very similar comparisons can be made today that parallel the demographic inversion of European cities of the mid-19th century. Continue reading Alan Ehrenhalt’s piece on Urban Inversion.

Alan Ehrenhalt is executive editor of Governing Magazine and author of The United States of Ambition and The Lost City.

January 2020
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