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Commentary

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  • Baltimore and the language of change

    Baltimore and the language of change
    For the last half-century, invoking the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to condemn or explain black urban uprisings has been a mandatory exercise. Recent events in Baltimore are no exception. Critics say that destroying property and attacking police desecrate King's ideals and draw attention away from constructive, peaceful protests; looters and “thugs” are blamed for derailing the “legitimate” path to justice. To defend (though not condone) spontaneous rebellions, others trot out King's remark that “a riot is the language of the unheard.”
  • To break the cycle of poverty in Baltimore, fix the culture of poverty

    To break the cycle of poverty in Baltimore, fix the culture of poverty
    Neighborhoods matter. That's the upshot of two fascinating new studies from Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues. In the 1990s, the federal government launched an experiment, called the Moving to Opportunity project. It created a lottery...

    Will traffic NIMBYs ruin Waze?

    Will traffic NIMBYs ruin Waze?
    Twenty-five years ago, before GPS and smartphones, Richard Schwadel and I co-wrote a book called "L.A. Shortcuts: The Guidebook for Drivers Who Hate to Wait," born out of a bet as to the fastest route to LAX. You could say we were the original Wazers....

    Fracking: Jerry Brown's environmental blind spot

    Fracking: Jerry Brown's environmental blind spot
    Gov. Jerry Brown may prove to be the greenest government official in American history — emphasis on "may." His announcement last week that California would up its target for reducing carbon emissions — to 40% by 2030 — puts him at...

    As Starbucks glitch shows, today's workers aren't trained to have moxie

    As Starbucks glitch shows, today's workers aren't trained to have moxie
    Having faced a similar crisis, I winced at the news that Starbucks stores recently had to close because a computer glitch froze their registers. In my high school years, I worked in a deli on Sheridan Road. Many customers were elderly widows and...