Background on "disability" in the USA by urbanexus

Per a series of articles in the Washington Post, the number of working-age adults receiving disability in the USA climbed from 7.7 million to 13 million between 1996 and 2015. The federal government this year will spend an estimated $192 billion on disability payments, more than the combined total for food stamps, welfare, housing subsidies and unemployment assistance. The rise in disability has emerged as yet another indicator of a widening political, cultural and economic chasm between urban and rural America.

The first article in this series was published on March 30, 2017, and the latest was published on October 7, 2017. They offer insight on the human side of this story that goes beyond dry statistics. Here are links to the articles:

2017-03-30  Disabled or just desperate: Rural Americans turn to disability as jobs dry up (WAPO)

2017-06-01  One family. Four generations of disability benefits. Will it continue_The number of homes with multiple recipients has risen, especially among the poor  (WAPO)

2017-07-21  In this rural town, disability divides a community between those who work and those who don’t  (WAPO)

2017-08-27  Some say people receiving disability benefits just need to get back to work. It's not that easy  (WAPO)

2017-10-07  Her disability check was gone, and now the only option left was also one of the worst  (WAPO)

Mapping disability benefits in the USA

Will Boyle Heights be ruined by one coffee shop? by urbanexus

Interesting gentrification debate in L.A.'s Boyle Heights neighborhood as reported in the Los Angeles Times.

" . . . But the activists who have fought against gentrification have so far failed to rally a large number of residents to their cause.

Some longtime residents like the rising property values and increased retail choices. Others are concerned about people being pushed out of the neighborhood. They also struggle to connect the dots, like the activists, between widespread gentrification and a cafe or art galleries in an isolated part of Boyle Heights."

Neighborhood preservation in New York City by urbanexus

On this day (June 23) in 1973, I went to work for the City of New York in what was then called the Housing and Development Administration (HDA) and is now the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Shortly after joining the city staff as a "quantitative analyst", I was assigned to the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP) that the Mayor (John Lindsay) created by executive order[1]

These were the days of massive housing abandonment in areas such as the South Bronx and East New York. The NPP was designed to try to prevent abandonment to spreading to nearby neighborhoods that had a solid stock of one to three-family ownership housing mixed in with multi-family structures experiencing disinvestment and deterioration. In a 1974 Fordham Urban Law Journal article [2], Philip Weitzman described the program, " .  . . as the first truly comprehensive effort in the nation aimed at preserving sound urban neighborhoods."

[1] NEW YORK, N.Y., ExEc. ORDER No. 80 (May 23, 1973), in 101 The City Record 2066 (1973)

[2] Weitzman, P. (1974). Neighborhood Preservation in New York City. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 3(3) 




Global warming if no action is taken by urbanexus

An article  in the on-line edition of the California Section the New York Times on June 22, 2017, by Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich contained dynamic map of how 95-degree (Fahrenheit) days would increase world-wide If there is no action to reduce global warming, and emissions continue to rise at the same pace they did in the first decade of the 21st century.

The mapping is based on an analysis from the Climate Impact Lab, a collaboration of climate scientists, economists, data engineers, researchers, analysts, and students from the University of California at Berkeley, the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), Rhodium Group and Rutgers University.

Health care questions by urbanexus

In response to a New York Times op-ed on health care by Christy Ford Chaplin posted on June 19, 2017, in the New York Times (, an anesthesiologist posted a helpful comment on the facts that are needed and questions that should be asked to address healcare in the USA.

 Wesley Clark - Brooklyn, NY

Although the article's highlighting of the AMA's destructive role in all of this is welcome, the article itself does absolutely nothing to prove that prepaid physician groups are the way forward. It identifies a real problem, but in response to it says, essentially, "Hmm - well, I don't know - maybe we should try this - ?"

We need a clearer answer, and we should start with a few facts and questions: 1) Other countries do it much better and for less money - what are they doing differently? 2) Upper-management salaries in medicine have ballooned to obscene levels lately - why are we paying them so much money? 3) Doctors make much more in the US than in many other countries - is there any reason for this? 4) Drugs cost much more here than in other countries - why should we put up with this? 5) American medical students overwhelmingly choose lucrative specialties as opposed to primary care - should we regulate this? 6) There seems to be a generalized, clunky inefficiency in American medicine (recent ER waits for non-life-threatening conditions: New York - 5 hours; Austria - 0 minutes) - what is going on here?

By the way - the AMA and other physician organizations are still at it. In my specialty (anesthesia), I regularly receive messages from my professional group asking me to lobby against allowing nurses to do various tasks that they are perfectly well qualified for. Doctors are no less self-dealing than anyone else. They must not be allowed to regulate themselves.

The New Brooklyn by urbanexus

Go here to listen to a great podcast in which author and Manhattan Institute fellow, Kay Hymowitz discusses her book, The New Brooklyn: What It Takes to Bring a City Back, with City Journal editor, Brian Anderson. In this book, Ms. Hymowitz, focuses on the remarkable transformation of large parts of New York City's largest borough from a symbol of urban decay to a remarkably vibrant and innovative urban environment. But, as she notes, challenges remain.


Kay Hymowitz is the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. She writes extensively on childhood, family issues, poverty, and cultural change in America.  

College course planning by urbanexus

While planning an undergraduate course for the first time in several years, I was perplexed by the question of how much reading and writing to assign. I turned to Google and, after a few blind alleys, found a helpful article at a blog maintained by the Center for Teaching Excellence at Rice University.  The blog post is  "How Much Should We Assign? Estimating Out of Class Workload" and the author is Elizabeth (Betsy) Barre. The nifty thing about this article is that it includes a calculator for estimating the time required to complete reading and writing assignments. The following screenshots give you an idea of how it works.

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David Fahrenthold and news as collaborative intelligence by urbanexus

Here is the story by David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) of the Washington Post about how he spent a year reporting on Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump). It began with asking questions about charitable contributions. Mr. Farenthold uses the Internet and social media to increase his productivity as described by Tom Rosenstiel in a Brookings article:  News as collaborative intelligence: Correcting the myths about news in the digital age.