Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Night Music: RIP Leonard Nimoy Edition

Hopefully someone will remember to return his Katra to Vulcan.

Spock does collapse:

Review: How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand

How Buildings Learn
Stewart Brand's quest for adaptive architecture

If you look at a photo of a city, any city, from fifty years ago, that city is going to look a lot different than now. A hundred or more years ago, even existing buildings are unrecognizable. This may seem obvious, yet surprisingly little thought is given to what happens after a building is built by designers or owners. A building may change owners, change tenants, change uses, get a facelift, add on, tear down, reconfigure, and so on. We are still using buildings that were built before mechanical heating and cooling was commonplace, and libraries are now as full of computers as books. In fact, such changes are the rule rather than the exception, yet little thought is given to this fact. Brand's book is an attempt to redress this omission.

Brand's major thesis can be summed up in this quote: "A building is not something you finish. A building is something you start." Brand is interested in the long-term -- what happens after the building is built, how do people adapt it and adapt to it over time, and what kinds of modifications are made over the life of a building which is often much longer than a human lifespan, and spends time looking at various case studies in order to come up with a philosophy of how to build buildings that evolve over time - "Evolutionary design is better than visionary design."

For the sake of use, buildings fall into three major categories - commercial, residential and institutional.
  1. Commercial buildings have to adapt quickly, often radically, because of intense competitive pressure to perform, and they are subject to the rapid advances that occur in any industry.
  2. Domestic buildings—homes—are the steadiest changers, responding directly to the family's ideas and annoyances, growth and prospects.
  3.  Institutional buildings act as if they were designed specifically to prevent change for the organization inside and to convey timeless reliability to everyone outside. When forced to change anyway, as they always are, they do so with expensive reluctance and all possible delay.
Brand considers the question by means of his experience in a brand new media lab designed by the world famous modernist architect I.M. Pei, which he considers typical of "overdesigned" modernist architecture focused on looks rather than daily use:
...Here was a building purpose-built to house a diverse array of disciplines and people collaborating on deep research in fast-evolving computer and communication technologies. Consider in that light the building's dominant feature--its vast, sterile atrium. In many research buildings a central atrium serves to bring people together with open stairways, casual meeting areas, and a shared entrance where everyone sees each other daily. The Media Lab's atrium cuts people off from each other. There are three widely separated entrances (each huge and glassy), three elevators, few stairs, and from nowhere can you see other humans in the five-story-high space. Where people might be visible, they are carefully obscured by internal windows of smoked glass. 
The atrium uses up so much of the building that actual working office and lab space is severely limited, making growth and new programs nearly impossible and exacerbating academic turf battles from the first day. Nowhere in the whole building is there a place for casual meetings, except for a tiny, overused kitchen. Corridors are narrow and barren. Getting new cabling through the interior concrete walls--a necessity in such a laboratory--requires bringing in jackhammers. You can't even move office walls around, thanks to the overhead fluorescent lights being at a Pei-signature 45-degree angle to everything else. 
The Media Lab building, I discovered, is not unusually bad. Its badness is the norm in new buildings overdesigned by architects. How did architects come to be such an obstacle to adaptivity in buildings? That's a central question not just for building users but for the architectural profession, which regards itself these years as being in crisis. Design professor C. Thomas Mitchell voices a common indictment: 
"A range of observers of architecture are now suggesting that the field may be bankrupt, the profession itself impotent, and the methods inapplicable to contemporary design tasks. It is further suggested that collectively they are incapable of producing pleasant, livable, and humane environments, except perhaps occasionally and then only by chance."pp 52-53
Brand contrasts this with the universally beloved Building 20 on the MIT campus. This building was not designed by a famous architect, but quickly thrown up to provide a place for researchers to work on radar projects during world War Two:
 ...But the most loved and legendary building of all at MIT is a surprise: a temporary building left over from World War II without even a name, only a number: Building 20. It is a sprawling 250,000-square-foot three-story wood structure—"The only building on campus you can cut with a saw," says an admirer. Constructed hastily in 1943 for the urgent development of radar and almost immediately slated for demolition. When I last saw it in 1993, it was still in use and still slated for demolition. In 1978 The MIT Museum assembled an exhibit to honor the perpetual fruitfulness of Building 20. The press release read: Unusual flexibility made the building ideal for laboratory and experimental space. Made to support heavy loads and of wood construction, it allowed a use of space which accommodated the enlargement of the working either horizontally or vertically. Even the roof was used for short-term structures to house equipment and test instruments. Although Building 20 was built with the intention to tear it down after the end of World War II, it has remained these thirty-five years providing a special function and acquiring its own history and anecdotes. Not assigned to any one school. department, or center, it seems to always have had space for the beginning project, the graduate student's experiment, the interdisciplinary research center.  
...Building 20 was too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, Spartan in its amenities, often dirty, and implacably ugly. Whatever was the attraction? The organizers of a 1978 exhibit queried alumni of the building and got illuminating answers. "Windows that open and shut at will of the owner (Martha Ditmeyer) "The ability to personalize your space and shape it to various purposes. If you don't like a wall, just stick your elbow through it." (Jonathan Allen). "If you want to bore a hole in the floor to get a little extra vertical space, you do it. You don't ask. It's the best experimental building ever built." (Albert Hill) "One never needs to worry about injuring the architectural or artistic value of the environment." (Morris Halle) "We feel our space is really ours. We designed it, we run it. The building is full of small microenvironments, each of which is different and each a creative space. Thus the building has a lot of personality. Also it's nice to be in a building that has such prestige (Heather Lechtman)
In 1991 I asked Jerome Wiesner, retired president of MIT, why he thought that "temporary" Building 20 was still around after half a century. His first answer was practical: "At $300 a square foot, it would take $75 million to replace." His next answer was aesthetic: "It's a very matter-of-fact building. It puts on the personality of the people in it." His final answer was personal. When he was appointed president of the university, he quietly kept a hideaway office in Building 20 because that was where "Nobody complained when you nailed something to a door." 
Every university has similar stories. Temporary is permanent, and permanent is temporary. Grand, final-solution buildings obsolesce and have to be torn down because they were too overspecified to their original purpose to adapt easily to anything else. Temporary buildings are thrown up quickly and roughly to house temporary projects. Those projects move on soon enough, but they are immediately supplanted by other temporary projects--of which, it turns out, there is an endless supply. The projects flourish in the low supervision environment, free of turf battles because the turf isn't worth fighting over. "We did some of our best work in the trailers, didn't we?" I once heard a Nobel-winning physicist remark. Low Road buildings keep being valuable precisely because they are disposable.
pp. 25-28
Building 20, then is Brand's ideal of buildings - nothing too fancy, sturdy structure, flexible spaces that can be adapted by the end users (he's a fan of wood for its malleability, "Wood is already the most adaptive of all building materials because amateurs are comfortable messing with it" p.194), easily comprehensible plan layout, common spaces for collaboration. It's easy to poke a hole and run new services as need be - a must for the fast-changing technology of MIT. The users much favor usability over "high" design that looks good in magazines or reflect some "genius" designer's personal style.

Had Brand stuck around MIT a bit longer, he would have an even more egregious example of brand-name folly and overdesigning. The Stata Center by world-famous brand-name Frank Gehry had so many problems that the owners sued Gehry and the construction company:

The Ray and Maria Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is an outlandish cartoon village in listing brick and scrolling aluminum, with a Möbius-strip main corridor inside. An italic-angled entrance, shaped like the cutting edge itself, ushers visitors off the drab Cambridge street. But then you see it, that universal symbol of malfunction: an orange mechanical lift. 
Yes, MIT, the very apogee of tech sophistication, seems to have bought itself a bright-yellow lemon. The showstopper home for its computer-science, linguistics, and philosophy departments cost $300 million to build ($200 million more than initial estimates) and opened in 2004 (four years behind schedule). And now the school has turned to the courts to express its buyer's remorse. A lawsuit filed in October against both the construction firm and the architect alleges "design and construction failures," negligence, and breach of contract, which have cost the university $1.5 million in repairs already, with millions more likely to come. 
The suit grabbed headlines because the architect's name is Frank Gehry, fueling a backlash against celebrity architects and their flashy designs. The go-to guy for this take is John Silber, the former president of Boston University, who has just published a book called Architecture of the Absurd: How "Genius" Disfigured a Practical Art. The Stata Center is on the cover. 
This kerfuffle may have little to do with outward appearances, though. True, some of Gehry's other buildings have been tweaked after opening their doors, as when the steel-sided Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles had to be sanded to remove a glare that could practically cook eggs on the sidewalk. And occupants have questioned elements of the Stata Center's design. ("I still would prefer straight to slanted walls, so as to put up bookshelves and a blackboard," says linguist Noam Chomsky, who has an office there.)
Lost in the Funhouse (Fast Company)

On the other hand, the building has features that Brand would highly approve of:
The building will never be finished. Says Gehry: “I’m happy when the building is forgiving enough so you can do things to it without destroying it. Put a new light where you want, knock out a wall.” Says a Stata linguist: “Any kind of scientific work is always under construction, always still being built. When you publish a book or a paper it’s never finished, it’s just a step on the way to the next one.” 
It occurred to Gehry long ago that his buildings looked more interesting while they were under construction than when they were finished. Ever since, he’s sought ways to give buildings that restless sense of something still happening. Nothing about the Stata feels finished. Since it opened, it’s been in a constant state of minor modification, as the researchers fit it to their needs. The architecture is a metaphor for the science: always an open question, always a work in progress. 
Not everyone loves the Stata’s “unfinished” indoor materials, which are raw metal, glass, plywood, industrial lamps, exposed wires, and raw concrete. But they understand the motive, which is that Gehry wanted his building to feel like a warehouse, easy to change and rearrange.
There’s lots of wasted space. Another winning move is the amazing amount of unprogrammed space. An efficiency expert would call it a total waste. This is space that isn’t anyone’s turf. It’s everywhere. It’s the stuff of those “village greens” and generous elevator lounges. People grab it when they need it. A space may become the overflow site for some experiment. Or students may clutter it with a newly invented game, or an impromptu discussion or party. They eat and study anywhere and everywhere: “The undergraduates really mill in the building. Some of them walk in out of curiosity and end up working with us.”

Because so much space isn’t under anyone’s direct supervision, the Stata feels free and relaxed. And the openness means that its parts are visible to one another: “People can be seen to be working.” “You can see the building is alive. You can feel part of a community that is working hard. I used to have to go to a conference on the West Coast to find out what the guy next to me was working on.” “There’s connectivity. There are even windows in the fire stairs.”
Does Gehry's Stata Center Really Work? (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Brand accuses architects of practicing "magazine architecture" -- designing novel buildings that photograph well for inclusion in architecture magazines in order to win awards and attract new clients, rather than delivering buildings that are practical, workable and adaptable:
At a building preservation conference in Charleston, South Carolina, I chatted with an architecture student. Interested primarily in rehab and restoration work, she referred unflatteringly to the majority of her 450 fellow students at the Tulane University Architecture Department as "magazine architects." By which she meant image-driven and fad-driven architects, because architecture magazines probe no deeper than the look and style of the buildings they cover. They never interview clients or users. They never criticize buildings except, rarely, in terms of being bad art or off-trend. Articles consist primarily of stylized color photographs. Reports cover only new or newly renovated buildings, often in language that sounds like the "prismatic luminescence" school of fine writing. The subject is taste, not use; commercial success, not operational success. 
Architecture magazines are about what sells. They are advertising, cover to cover.
A major culprit is architectural photography, according to a group of Architecture Department faculty I had lunch with at the University of California, Berkeley. Clare Cooper Marcus said it most clearly: "You get work through getting awards, and the award system is based on photographs. Not use. Not context. Just purely visual photographs taken before people start using the building." Tales were told of ambitious architects specifically designing their buildings to photograph well at the expense of performing well.  
Art must be inherently radical, but buildings are inherently conservative. Art must experiment to do its job. Most experiments fail. Art costs extra. How much extra are you willing to pay to live in a failed experiment? Art flouts convention. Convention became conventional because it works. Aspiring to art means aspiring to a building that almost certainly cannot work, because the old good solutions are thrown away. The roof has a dramatic new look, and it leaks dramatically.
The Gehry example above seems to prove the points - Gehry's amoebic forms dissolving into one another seem tailor-made for photographs, but the projecting windows and irregular shapes cost more to construct, are inherently less resistant to water and so must use complex sealants and waterproofing systems subject to failure, and require overengineered structures just to stand up. But it looks good in a magazine, and it reinforces the Gehry "brand," and that's all that matters. Users are usually concerned with more mundane matters:
Does the building manage to keep the rain out? That's a core issue seldom mentioned in the magazines but incessantly mentioned by building users, usually through clenched teeth. They can't believe it when their expensive new building, by a famous architect, crafted with up-to-the-minute high-tech materials, leaks. The flat roof leaks, the parapets leak, the Modernist right angle between roof and wall leaks, the numerous service penetrations through the roof leak; the wall itself, made of a single layer of snazzy new material and without benefit of roof overhang, leaks. In the 1980s, 80 percent of the ever-growing postconstruction claims against architects were for leaks.
Architects, he says, are obsessed with the look of the building, that is, the surface facade, while giving short shrift to such important things as the structure, the services, and the space planning:
A building's exterior is a strange thing to concentrate on anyway. All that effort goes into impressing the wrong people—passers-by instead of the people who use the building. Only if there is a heavily trafficked courtyard or garden do the building dwellers notice the exterior at all after the first few days. Most often they don't even enter by way of the facade and big lobby; they come in by the garage door. And yet, ever since the Renaissance, "the history of architecture is the history of facades." It is a massive misdirection of money and design effort, considering how badly buildings need their fundamentals taken care of. Chris Alexander is vehement: "Our present attitude is all reversed. What you have is extremely inexpensive structure and all this glitz on the surface. The structure rots after thirty years, and the glitz is so expensive that you daren't even fuck with it."  
Architects got themselves stuck in the skin trade. Frank Duffy observes, "The only area of architectural discretion in artistic or financial terms is the skin. The architectural imagination has allowed itself to be well and truly marginalized." It happened because architects offered themselves as providers of instant solutions, and only the look of a building gives instant gratification. When the space planning doesn't work out and needs improvement, or the structure indeed rots, where's the architect? Long gone.
This leads Brand to a theory of adaptable buildings, or "steps toward an adaptive architecture." His idea is that a building is actually a collection of several discrete interacting components, each of which exists for a varying duration of time. For example, the site is often determined by lot lines extending back generations (as in the case of London, for example). The structure often lasts for centuries and can remain even with a new skin. But interior walls and services are apt to rapid change over the lifetime of even a single user of the building, such as an expanding business. Things like furniture are constantly on the move. Here he quotes British architect Frank Duffy, a former president or the RIBA, and theorist of building change:
"Our basic argument is that there isn't such a thing as a building," says Duffy. "A building properly conceived is several layers of longevity of built components." He distinguishes four layers, which he calls Shell, Services, Scenery, and Set. Shell is the structure, which lasts the lifetime of the building (fifty years in Britain, closer to thirty-five in North America). Services are the cabling, plumbing, air conditioning, and elevators ("lifts"), which have to be replaced dropped ceilings, etc., which changes every five to seven years. Set is the shifting of furniture by the occupants, often a matter of months or weeks.
A design imperative emerges: An adaptive building has to allow slippage between the differently-paced systems of Site, Structure, Skin, Services, Space plan, and Stuff . Otherwise the slow systems block the flow of the quick ones, and the quick ones tear up the slow ones with their constant change. Embedding the systems together may look efficient at first, but over time it is the opposite. and destructive as well. p.12
Brand redefines these discrete elements, from longest-lasting to highest turnover, as Site, Structure, Skin, Services, and Stuff:
  1. Site: The geographical setting, the urban location, and the legally defined lot whose boundaries and context outlast ephemeral buildings.
  2. Structure: the foundation and load-bearing elements. Architects would probably include what is called the "core" --the vertical circulation elements such as stairs and elevators, since these are usually constructed at the same time and are an integral part of the layout (and sometimes the structural design as well. Brand classes elevators as services). He quotes Christopher Alexander saying a structure should last for 300 years or more.
  3. Skin: the exterior surface of the building (architects would call this the weather barrier). Architects also refer to this as the "Shell" - often "structure, and core and shell are separate construction packages in modern fast-paced construction.
  4. Services: The working guts of a building, electrical wiring, plumbing, HVAC ducts, communication and alarms, and moving parts like elevators and escalators. These Brand believes should be very changeable as technology changes - "We overestimate technological change in the sort term and underestimate it in the long term."
  5. Space Plan: The interior arrangement of doors and walls. "Turbulent commercial space can change every 3 years or so, exceptionally quiet homes might wait 30 years."
  6. Stuff: Chairs, desks, sofas, bookshelves, computers, etc. "Furniture is called mobilia in Italian for good reason."
Brand classifies two major approaches to adaptable building historically - the High Road - buildings that are such high quality and design that they remain for centuries, often becoming subject to historical preservation statutes, and the Low Road - utilitarian vernacular buildings where no one cares what you do to them over time, and thus are endlessly adaptable though adaptive re-use, additions, renovations, etc.
A Low Road building needs only to be roomy and cheap. Structurally it should be robust enough to take the major changes in use it will attract. Finish can be minimal and ornament modest or absent entirely. Initial Services can be rudimentary. Design it primarily for storage and it will soon attract creative human occupants. p.194
The High Road examples he uses are three presidential estates that have existed in one form or another to the present day: George Washington's Mount Vernon, James Madison's Montpelier, and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Perhaps not surprisingly it is Jefferson, the architect's house, which is the most resistant to change. He also looks at Boston's Athenaeum library and the Chatsworth estate in England (contemporary readers might wish to imagine Downton Abbey, especially it's latest incarnation as a museum/tourist attraction/filming set):

Whereas Low Road buildings are successively gutted and begun anew, High Road buildings are successively refined. These are precisely the two principal strategies of biological populations--the opponent versus the preserver: "R-strategy" versus "K-strategy" in the jargon. It is the difference between annual and perennial plants--between weeds like dandelions which scatter profuse seeds to the winds, and dominant species like oak trees, which nurture their few acorns and then build an environment that protects the next generation. Individuals of opportunistic species are typically small, short-lived, and independent, putting all their energy into productivity. Preserver species are more often large, long-lived, densely interdependent and competitive, rationing their energy for high efficiency. 
The sustained complexity of High Road buildings leads in the fullness of time to rich specialization. they cannot help becoming unique. they respond to so many hidden forces, they are in part mysterious, sustained by subtleties. At the same time they are filled with obsolete oddities, preserved out of habit until odd new uses are found for them. (Where can we string the new fiberoptic cable? How about the old laundry chute?) High road buildings are common, but the points I want to make about them are best demonstrated in extreme examples.
pp. 38
"Beauty is in what time does," says Frank Duffy. Something strange happens when a building ages past a human generation or two. Any building older than 100 years will be considered beautiful, no matter what. Having outlived its period of being out of fashion, plus several passing fashions since that, it is beyond fashion. If it has kept High Road continuity, the whole place is highly adapted, complex and mysterious, a keeper of secrets. Since few buildings live so long, it has earned the stature of rarity and the respect we give longevity. p. 91
Both strategies work, as long as you stay away from Magazine architecture - the "no road" approach:
If you want a lovable building, a strategic decision needs to be made right at the beginning. The design and construction can fruitfully take either the High Road or Low Road, toward beloved permanence or toward beloved disposability. The High Road requires Structure built to last and some areas of very high finish indeed, particularly with the Skin and at least some interiors, to set a high standard for future work. The major threat to an urban High Road building over time is shifting real-estate values, so either a financial endowment or great public esteem is needed to protect the property. A Low Road building needs only to be roomy and cheap. Structurally it should be robust enough to take the major changes in use it will attract. Finish can be minimal and ornament modest or absent entirely. Initial Services can be rudimentary. Design it primarily for storage and it will soon attract creative human occupants. p. 193-194
Not surprisingly, Brand is a fan of vernacular architecture--"everything not designed by professional architects— in other words, most of the world's buildings." Vernacular buildings are adapted from a long period of trial and error to a unique locale and incorporate generations of knowledge of how to solve problems and provide for comfort and durability in a particular climate. Examples featured prominently include the Medieval three-aisled structures, New England saltbox (Cape Cod) homes, bungalows of the 1920-1930, Santa-Fe style, which has been successfully updated to make Santa Fe a leading tourist destination, and Victorian Painted Ladies, which have contributed to San Francisco's postcard charm (and sky-high property values). He thoroughly renounces and criticizes novel structures like the geodesic domes which he played such a huge role in popularizing as the publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog:
Vernacular building traditions have the attention span to incorporate generational knowledge about long-term problems such as maintaining and growing a building over time. High-style architecture likes to solve old problems in new ways, which is a formula for disaster, according to Dell Upton at the University of California. Vernacular builders, he says, are content to accept well-proven old solutions to old problems. Then they can concentrate all their design ingenuity strictly on new problems, it any. When the standard local root design works pretty well, and materials and skills are readily available for later repair, why would you mess with that?

Brand includes other ideas such as scenario planning taken from military and corporate planning boards to take programming a step further and anticipate future changes rather than just present uses. He talks about the Post Occupancy Evaluation done by architects and how it should be standard practice.  He cites the example of John Abrams, a residential builder in Martha's Vineyard who photographs each wall of a home after the services are installed but before the drywall goes on and keys them to a set of floor plans. He celebrates "the romance of maintenance" as an all-too-neglected portion of building creation and ownership "If you want a building to learn, you have to pays its tuition. p.190"

He gives various tips on what an adaptive building should incorporate:
The simpler a roof—pitched, of course—the less it leaks or needs maintenance. Complexity can come later if it must. Roofs that are built fussy at the beginning are an obstacle to later change. The more a roof overhangs, the better it protects the walls from sun and rain. The lighter the color of the roof, the better it will stand up to solar deterioration, keep the building cool, and lessen the stress of temperature change in the roof materials.  
Walls...should be vertical and should begin flat and simple, like a good initial roof. They should invite easy penetration with new doors or windows. This is the great attraction of stud walls. p.195...external walls can take either a High Road or Low Road approach, encouraging either permanence or change. Low Road walls offer a further choice—they can be funky or high tech. One of the best of the funky is the highly forgiving board-and-batten.  For high-tech Low Road walls, the current acme is the variations on Dryvit known in the trade as "exterior insulation and finish systems" (EIFS). High Road walls are nearly always masonry. Stone is grander. Brick is more adaptable... 
I favor keeping Services separate from Skin as well as from Structure...The conservative tactic—at higher initial cost—of installing overcapacity electrical feeders and breakers, oversize chases, and an apparent excess of outlets is nearly always rewarded. The general rule is: oversize your components....Anticipate greater connectivity always. All new buildings should have extra conduit laid throughout—two or three or more vacant half-inch plastic conduits with labeled string hanging out of the ends waiting for unplanned phone lines, speaker leads, computer wires, coaxial cable, or what have you. 
As for shape: be square. The only configuration of space that grows well and subdivides well and is really efficient to use is the rectangle. ...If you start boxy and simple, outside and in, then you can let complications develop with time, responsive to use. Prematurely convoluted surfaces are expensive to build, a nuisance to maintain, and hard to change...The way rooms and floors are laid out can be crucial for a building's resilience to changing times...  p. 192
The book is consistent with Brand's ideas about long-term thinking and sustainability, which influenced his creation of the Long Now Foundation. Buildings should be built with the long-term use in mind, not as jewels for magazine covers. They will change over time, it's just a matter of how much and how seamless that process is, even if the ultimate change is tearing the thing down.

A host of "alternative" architecture thinkers are found in the pages of the book - Christopher Alexander, Jane Jacobs, Leon Krier, Frank Duffy, Joel Garreau, Lloyd Kahn, along with quotes from other thinkers (Henry Glassie, Ivan Ilich, Gregory Bateson, et al.)

Ironically, the years since Brand's book was published has seen a resurgence in the conversion of old industrial buildings to new uses such as lofts, apartments, condominiums, offices and art galleries. These are being done in older post-industrial neighborhoods from Brooklyn and Soho to the Pearl District in Portland, and everywhere in between including the Rust Belt. The very things that make this possible - sturdy, fireproof structures of concrete and heavy timber, regular structural grids, wide open floor plates, high ceilings, wood stud walls, square and rectangular building shapes, low-maintenance brick walls with operable windows and skylights, lots of extra floor space - are precisely what Brand recommends be incorporated into new buildings to make them viable in the long term.

While Brand has a lot of good advice, and his outsider prespective is refreshing, it's hard to see it being widley taken up in a world where architects are busy putting up condominium towers and building art galleries and shopping malls for the one percent in wealthy urban enclaves like Manhattan and Dubai, while older neighborhoods succumb to foreclosure blight and are being bulldozed . As investment manager Jeremy Grantham put it, "Capitalism doesn't care about your grandchildren." Still, there's plenty to chew on here for people who are looking for a more adaptive, resilient and humane architecture that creates a sense of place beyond the needs of short-term profit. While it doesn't get the headlines of Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid, good, small-scale solutions are being built along these lines in various locations around the world, and from these we could learn to build a new type of architecture that is built around human needs, resilience, durability and adaptability, rather than novelty, fashion and luxury.  See this good example of co-housing from Germany:

R50 – cohousing is a new model typology for low-cost and affordable housing offering a maximum capacity for adaptation and flexibility throughout its lifetime. Social, cultural, economic and ecological aspects have been considered equally to define a contemporary sustainable approach to urban living...Meeting the owners’ aspiration for collective and affordable living and working, the architectural concept is based on a compact and efficient structure with carefully detailed connections on different scales. It is based on a concrete skeleton with one access and two service cores, an independent timber facade and a suspended steel construction for the all around balconies. A slightly sunken basement level provides access to the building and merges private and public spaces. Each apartment and all additional community spaces were developed by an intensive process of consultations, discussions and design. Based on the structural framework the sizes of apartments could be determined and individual requirements accommodated in the floor plans. In parallel to this process, a common standard for fixtures and fittings was developed and defined, which has resulted in a collective approach to interior fittings, the use of materials and some surfaces left unfinished, whilst allowing individual layouts of the apartments. This kind of structured yet open design process has not only allowed for extensive participation, self-directed design and self-building, but has also led to mutual agreement on the type, location, size and design of spaces shared by residents.
R50 – Cohousing / ifau und Jesko Fezer + HEIDE & VON BECKERATH (Arch Daily)

Another great example is incremental hosing designed to help repair slums, such as The Quinta Monroy houses in Chile. Residents start with the gray, concrete structure and foundations, then fill in the adjacent spaces with their own materials over time.

Has This Chilean Architect Figured Out How To Fix Slums? (Mother Jones)
In the waterside slums of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, 480,000 residents face the threat of displacement as the government seeks to redevelop their land, claiming urban renewal is necessary for economic development. But Kunlé Adeyemi has an alternative solution. He envisages a city of floating homes that would allow residents to remain within their community, and safe from rising tides, while at the same time improving the quality of their lives.

In Pakistan, Yasmeen Lari is applying skills learned building vast commercial structures and restoring historic national monuments to help communities at risk from flood and earthquake damage. She has built more than 36,000 safe homes and won the UN Recognition Award in the process.

But perhaps most striking of all are the buildings of the Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia. Since the economic boom of the 2000s, population – and pollution – in the country has soared. Only 2.5% of Ho Chi Minh City is “green space” and nine in 10 children under five suffer respiratory illness. Nghia is combatting these problems with green architecture: buildings infused with living plants and trees. “Vietnamese cities have lost their tropical beauty,” he says. “For a modern architect the most important mission is to bring green spaces back.”
Rebel architects: building a better world (Guardian)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Polical Collapse in Wisconsin

I normally don't talk state politics, but lately you can't go anywhere without hearing that Scott Walker is the frontrunner for the Rebublican nomination for president by running Wisconsin into the ground. Seriously, despite all the corruption probes, Walker's term has been, from a purely objective, nonpolitical standpoint, an unmitigated disaster.

We lost an opportunity to invest in new infrastructure - the light rail money instead went to California and the jobs left the state. Job growth has been anemic. The very specific promises Walker made for job growth were conveniently forgotten (150,000 new jobs!!!). The emphasis on busting unions and holding down wages has - surprise, surprise - not caused the state economy to blossom, and the state is even back in the red, despite cutting services and raising fees, because Walker has doled out so many tax cuts to the very rich.

So here is a list of the most recent hits, starting with a 220 million dollar subsidy to the billionaires of the professional sports cartel while cutting 300 million from my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin:
Meanwhile in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker continues his efforts to carve up the state piecemeal. Walker is one of those governors and Republican presidential maybe-contenders whose entire reason for governance can be summed up as We Can't Have Nice Things Anymore.

    Gov. Scott Walker's plan to cut the University of Wisconsin System by $300 million over two years would likely lead to layoffs, but closing campuses is not on the table at this time, top school officials said Tuesday.

"At this time" is an interesting hedge, but the central premise is that the state university ought to be able to absorb budget cuts of $300 million over two years by eliminating "waste," which is a talking point that predates Scott Walker's birth by roughly an eon or so. Eliminating this waste, by which we mean people and services, will be accomplished in the usual Scott Walker way. The universities will be detached from state government and therefore the labor rules that regulate them, which will free up Walker supporters on the Board of Regents as they implement those rules in a manner more fitting of a kleptocracy.... 
If you are wondering why the Wisconsin university system needs to have its budget slashed by $300 million over the next two years, the proximal cause is that the previous Scott Walker tax cuts, which were going to pay for themselves what with the resulting boom in state growth caused by all the wealthy people needing new yachts to sail down the wider streets of Madison, instead continue to hemorrhage money. And we need that money to build rich people a new sporting arena.

    Calling his plan a "common-sense, fiscally conservative approach," Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday said new growth in income tax revenue from Milwaukee Bucks players, employees and visiting teams will generate enough money to cover debt payments on $220 million in state-issued bonds for a new arena. [...]

    A new arena had been expected to cost $400 million to $500 million. Based on the new calculations, it appears the cost will be at least $500 million.

    "There's absolute security for the taxpayers," Walker said. "No new taxes, no drawing on existing revenues, no exposure to the future..."

Because that $220 million of new state bonds are expected to pay for themselves, you see, what with the great gobs of money Milwaukee Bucks players will personally be paying in state income taxes, plus those hotel rooms for the other teams and whatnot. It's like printing money, and forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to build extravagant sporting venues for wealthy sporting team owners is a sure thing that has never, ever gone wrong, and Scott Walker is a Republican financial brain-genius whose past predictions on these things have been so spot-on that people can hardly contain their admiration for their man or wait for him to work his budgetary money-making voodoo on all of the rest of America.

Educating Wisconsin's residents, however, is just a gigantic money drain. How does getting an education help anyone? How does having a college-educated workforce help Wisconsin, especially when compared to the revenues that could be gotten by wooing hotel visits by visiting sporting teams? No sir, you young people and educated people need to learn that we in America can no longer afford to have nice things these days. If you wanted a high-paying career or want to work in a well-appointed, state-funded venue that the politicians of the state can devote themselves to building, you should have done something decent with yourself and become a member of a prominent sporting team and/or the owner of a sporting team. You know, a real career. Grab a ball, junior, and hope you make the cut.
Gov. Scott Walker seeks $300 million in university cuts, but $220 million to build Bucks a new arena (Daily Kos)  So 500 million for a sporting arena is a "sound investment", but connecting the state's capital and largest city by rail in a state whose climate is cold and snowy is a bad investment. Welcome to Tea Party America.

Scott Walker proposes big cut to University of Wisconsin System (MSNBC) And of course, not content with that, he exchanged the "Wisconsin Idea" of betterment of the human race to "meeting the state's workforce needs." None too subtle, eh?
It was not enough for Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin suddenly to propose a destructive 13 percent cut in state support for the University of Wisconsin’s widely respected system. His biennial budget plan, released Tuesday, reached gratuitously into the university’s hallowed 111-year-old mission statement to delete a bedrock principle: “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”

The budget — patently tailored for the governor’s conservative campaign for the Republican presidential nomination — inserted language that the university should be more narrowly concerned with meeting “the state’s work force needs.”

Brazenly deleted as well from the mission statement, which is nationally appreciated in education circles as the Wisconsin Idea, were the far from controversial goals “to educate people and improve the human condition” and “serve and stimulate society.” It was as if a trade school agenda were substituted for the idea of a university.
Gov. Walker’s ‘Drafting Error’ (NYtimes) Because we certainly don't want people to think, now do we? Walker and his ilk would never get elected.

About those tax cuts and red ink:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker touts the generous tax cuts he's pushed through since 2010 to bolster his image as one of the 2016 GOP presidential field’s most high-profile fiscal conservatives. (One economically conservative activist told Slate's Betsy Woodruff that Walker's 2014 gubernatorial election was more important to him than every other election in the country combined.) But those tax cuts have not created the hoped-for economic growth, and even after big reductions in public spending, Wisconsin is in the midst of a budget crisis: Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the Walker administration will skip a debt payment of $108 million that is due in May.

Spokesman Cullen Werwie told Bloomberg that the state will restructure its debt obligations to avoid default, but the delay will result in a substantial increase in the cost of the loan for Wisconsin taxpayers.  
Scott Walker, Fiscal Responsibility Candidate, Orders His State to Skip Debt Payment (Slate)

But I'm sure the new agenda will bring economic growth - "right to work" legislation, voter ID laws, and drug testing welfare recipeints (it will actually cost the state more money to demonize welfare recipeints, putting us further in the red):
Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin who is considering a Republican presidential run, has promised to sign into law an anti-union bill targeted at the state’s private sector workers that is an almost verbatim copy of model legislation devised by an ultra-rightwing network of corporate lobbyists.

On Friday, Walker dropped his earlier opposition to a so-called “right to work” bill, which he had described as a “distraction”, signalling that he would sign it into law should it succeed in passing the Wisconsin legislature. Republican members are rushing through the provision, which would strip private sector unions of much of their fee-collecting and bargaining powers.
Wisconsin anti-union bill is 'word for word' from rightwing lobbyist group (The Guardian)
Are Food Stamp recipients in Wisconsin failing to get jobs because they are on drugs? That’s the story Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is peddling. He favors drug testing all working age adult welfare and food stamp recipients to send a message to recipients to “get yourself productive and stop asking the taxpayers to help subsidize your lifestyle,” as he put it.

Gov. Scott Walker has also embraced this proposal and wants to expand it to include all adults receiving Medicaid and unemployment benefits. “This is not a punitive measure. This is about getting people ready for work,” he noted. “I’m not making it harder to get government assistance, I’m making it easier to get a job.”

To the casual observer this might sound sensible. But the closer you look at the proposal the more nonsensical it appears. For starters, many recipients of Medicaid and even Food Stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) already have a job, but it pays so little they need assistance. Statistics show that as high as 58 percent of those getting food stamps are employed. As for Medicaid, the data shows that 83 percent of this funding to goes to the elderly, disabled, or working poor. If the goal is to help the working poor and lower government subsidies, raising the minimum wage would accomplish far more than giving a drug test.

The idea that public assistance recipients have are prone to drugs or have a “lifestyle” problem, as Vos puts it, has been disproven in other states that tried testing. In Florida, just two percent of welfare recipients failed drug tests of their urine, compared to 8 percent of the general population that uses illegal drugs. In Tennessee, just one of 800 tested had a positive result, a rate of 0.12 percent.

Then there is the cost of doing drug screens. In Florida, it cost $30, and the cost of the tests has pretty much equalled the small savings realized by throwing a tiny percentage of welfare recipients off the rolls.
Hey, Let’s Drug Test Food Stamp Recipients (Urban Milwaukee) I've been on unemployment in Wisconsin. Nice to know that next time I'll have to take the bus downtown and regularly pee in a cup in between those job searches!
In many respects, the point of Walker’s anti-union crusade was to destroy the electoral muscle of the main opposition to his conservative agenda. But the most important impact of the creeping death of public unions in Wisconsin may be on take-home pay.

The Washington Post didn’t take note of this, but according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, median household income in Wisconsin is $51,467 a year, nearly $800 below the national average. And it has fallen consistently since the passage of the anti-union law in 2011, despite a small bounce-back nationally in 2013. The Bureau of Economic Analysis puts Wisconsin in the middle of the pack on earnings growth, despite a fairly tight labor market with a headline unemployment rate of 5.2 percent.

This actually undercounts the problem a bit, because it doesn’t cover total compensation. For example, in the wake of the anti-union law, public employees lost the equivalent of 8-10 percent in take-home pay because of increased contributions to healthcare and pension benefits.

Moreover, the meager earnings growth that has come to Wisconsin has mostly gone to the top 1 percent of earners. Another Wisconsin Budget Project report shows that the state hit a record share of income going to the very top in 2012, a year after passage of the anti-union law. That doesn’t include the $2 billion in tax cuts Walker initiated in his first term, which went disproportionately to the highest wage earners. (This is precisely the agenda Walker is likely to run on in his presidential campaign.)
Scott Walker’s economic mess: How worker wages were gutted in Wisconsin (Salon)

Expect more of that, here's what he's doing while we're paying his salary: Scott Walker to attend private dinner with supply-siders in New York (Washington Post)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is scheduled to attend a private dinner Wednesday with longtime advocates of supply-side economics. Economists Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer, and Stephen Moore will host Walker, according to several people with knowledge of the event. For decades, that trio of friends — all associated with President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies — have been high-profile proponents of using tax cuts to boost economic growth.
Yes, kids, there's no limit on how far you can go by being a shill for the rich! You can even be a college dropout, unlike working-clsss people.
Set aside, for a moment, his repeated refusal, in the past few days, to say whether he believes that President Obama loves America, or whether he believes that the President is a Christian, and look instead at Walker’s record running what used to be one of America’s more progressive states. Having cut taxes for the wealthy and stripped many of Wisconsin’s public-sector unions of their collective-bargaining rights, he is now preparing to sign a legislative bill that would cripple unions in the private sector. Many wealthy conservatives, such as the Koch brothers, who have funnelled a lot of money to groups supporting Walker, regard him as someone who’s turning his state into a showcase for what they want the rest of America to look like.
The Dangerous Candidacy of Scott Walker (The New Yorker) Wisconsin is now the Koch bother's "laboratory."

This article delves a little deeper into the reason for Walker's success in Wisconsin, which I can tell you from being here, is totally accurate. It's basically divide-and-conquer, along with mining the bottomless pit of white racial grievance and directing anger against urban dwellers and minorities:
Walker’s home turf of metropolitan Milwaukee has developed into the most bitterly divided political ground in the country—“the most polarized part of a polarized state in a polarized nation,” as a recent series by Craig Gilbert in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it. Thanks to a quirk of twentieth-century history, the region encompasses a heavily Democratic and African American urban center, and suburbs that are far more uniformly white and Republican than those in any other Northern city, with a moat of resentment running between the two zones. As a result, the area has given rise to some of the most worrisome trends in American political life in supercharged form: profound racial inequality, extreme political segregation, a parallel-universe news media. These trends predate Walker, but they have enabled his ascent, and his tenure in government has only served to intensify them. Anyone who believes that he is the Republican to save his party—let alone win a presidential election—needs to understand the toxic and ruptured landscape he will leave behind.
Scott Walker's Toxic Racial Politics (New Republic) A journey through the poisonous, racially divided world that produced a Republican star. Long, but a must-read. I can't escape from Wisconsin soon enough!

Incidentally, to see an alternative style of governance in action, see neighboring Minnesota: This Billionaire Governor Taxed the Rich and Increased the Minimum Wage -- Now, His State's Economy Is One of the Best in the Country (Huffington Post) The difference is, of course, that because the governor of Minnesota is wealthy and not a college dropout, he does not have to climb the greasy pole by being an empty shill for plutocrats.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Competition Is Wasteful

Related to last time, this article on expenditure cascades, Why have weddings and houses gotten so ridiculously expensive? Blame inequality (Vox), talks about the ways that positional goods and extreme inequality cause waste in various economies:
The median new house in the US is now 50 percent larger than it was in 1980, even though the median income has grown only slightly in real terms. Houses are growing faster than incomes because of a process I call "expenditure cascades."

Here's how it works. People at the top begin building bigger houses simply because they have more money. Perhaps it's now the custom for them to have their daughters' wedding receptions at home, so a ballroom is now part of what defines adequate living space. Those houses shift the frame of reference for the near-wealthy — who travel in the same social circles — so they, too, build bigger.

But as the near-wealthy begin adding granite countertops and vaulted ceilings, they shift the frames of reference that define adequate for upper-middle class families. And so they begin going into debt to keep pace. And so it goes, all the way down the income ladder. More spending by the people who can afford it at the top ultimately creates pressure for more spending by people who can't afford it at the bottom.

The best response might seem to be simply to exhort people to summon more discipline, except for the fact that...
3) The costs of failure to keep pace with community spending norms are not just hurt feelings

The process I describe isn't a law. Congress isn't mandating that people buy bigger houses. So if it's optional, why don't people simply opt out? Because opting out entails real costs that are extremely hard to avoid.

Failure to keep pace with what peers spend on housing means not just living in a house that seems uncomfortably small. It also means having to send your children to inferior schools. A "good" school is a relative concept, and the better schools are almost always those in more expensive neighborhoods.

Here's the toil index, a simple measure I constructed to track one important cost of inequality for middle-income families. To send their children to a school of at least average quality, median earners must buy the median-priced home in their area. The toil index plots the monthly number of hours the median earner must work to achieve that goal. When incomes were growing at the same rate for everyone during the post-World War II decades, the toil index was almost completely stable. But income inequality began rising sharply after 1970, and since then the toil index has been rising in tandem. It's now approximately 100 hours a month, up from only 42 hours in 1970.

The median real hourly wage for men in the US is actually lower now than in the 1980s. If middle-income families must now spend more than before to achieve basic goals, how do they manage? Census data reveal clear symptoms of increasing financial distress among these families. Of the 100 largest US counties, those where income inequality grew most rapidly were also those that experienced the largest increases in three important symptoms of financial distress: divorce rates, long commutes, and bankruptcy filings.

In OECD countries, higher inequality is associated with longer work hours, both across countries and over time. Standard economic models predict none of these relationships.

4) Positional concerns spawn wasteful spending patterns, even when everyone is well-informed and rational

Charles Darwin, the great British naturalist, was heavily influenced by Adam Smith and other economists. He saw that competition in nature, like competition in the marketplace, often produced benefits for both individuals and larger groups, just as in Smith's fabled Invisible Hand theory. Keen eyesight in hawks, for example, made both individual hawks and hawks as a species more successful. Yet Darwin also saw clearly that many traits and behaviors helped individuals at the expense of larger groups. When success depends on relative position, as it almost always does in competitive struggles, wasteful positional arms races often result.

Consider the antlers in modern bull elk, which span four feet and weigh as much as 40 pounds. Because they impair mobility in wooded areas, bulls are more easily surrounded and killed by wolves. So why doesn't natural selection favor smaller antlers? Darwin's answer was that large antlers evolved because elk are a polygynous species, meaning that males take more than one mate if they can. But if some take multiple mates, others are left with none. That's why males fight so bitterly with one another for access to females. Mutations that coded for larger antlers spread quickly because they made any bull that had them more likely to win.

But bulls as a group would be better off if each animal's antlers were smaller by half, since they'd be less vulnerable to predators, and each fight would be decided as before. The inefficiency in such positional arms races is exactly analogous to the inefficiency of military arms races. It's also like when everyone stands to get a better view: no one sees any better than if all had remained comfortably seated.

Beyond some point, additional spending on mansions, coming-of-age parties, and many other goods becomes purely positional, meaning that it merely raises the bar that defines adequate. Because much of the total spending in today's economy is purely positional, it is wasteful in the same way that military arms races are wasteful.
This is one reason highly unequal societies are always less successful than more equal ones. Add to the fact that human capital is developed much more broadly in equal societies, and there is more opportunity for everyone in equal societies rather than just a hereditary elite.

The article mentions that the rich, too, would be better off without having to play keep-up with this arms race, and higher taxes would accomplish this with no downside since the additional income to the rich is now just being used for competition with other elites, rather than productive investment, and causing the costs for everybody to rise (especially for housing). Of course it will never happen, since the American rich are uniquely sociopathic, and will never rest until they have every penny and have to step over the dead bodies to get to their twentieth mansion.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

When Competition Kills

At some start-ups, Friday is so casual that it’s not even a workday (Washington Post)
Treehouse is closed every Friday. The 80-and-counting employees work a 32-hour work week Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, employees are expected to be home, with their families, having fun, doing something, anything, other than work.

That’s exactly how founder and chief executive Ryan Carson, 37, has been working since 2005. These days, on Fridays, he gets his two young sons off to school and spends the day hanging out with his wife, Gill. “It’s like dating again. We go to coffee shops. We read books together. I really feel like I’m involved in my kids’ lives and my wife’s life,” Carson said. “This schedule has been absolutely life-changing for me. I can’t imagine anything more valuable.”  
Sounds pretty good right? What's the problem?
Books, business journals and news stories abound detailing the insanely long hours tech workers put in, sleeping under desks, napping in broom closets and missing parents’ funerals and children’s births. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has said she worked 130 hours a week at Google. And in a post that went viral, Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch and now a tech investor, wrote: “Startups are hard. So work more, cry less, and quit all the whining.”
“As far as I’m concerned, working 32 hours a week is a part-time job,” Arrington, said in an interview. “I look for founders who are really passionate. Who want to work all the time. That shows they care about what they’re doing, and they’re going to be successful.”
Others cite the need to best the competition and meet investors’ demands.
While Mike McDerment no longer works himself into the ground like he did when he moved into his parents’ Toronto basement to launch his start-up, he still views long hours as necessary. 
“It’s really about survival,” said McDerment, CEO of FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting software firm. “It’s this kind of us-against-the -world mentality. You’re competing with multibillion-dollar companies that want to crush you out of existence. You have to work your ass off just to survive until tomorrow.” 
Treehouse founder Carson says he worked around the clock when he was starting out as a Web developer for a start-up in the United Kingdom. 
“I remember trying to sleep under my desk for 20 minutes, and feeling delirious and frustrated,” he said. “And then, getting to the end of that and realizing it was all for nothing. We were building a Web site for some tobacco company. That’s when I realized, this is where it goes, if you work hard and never stop. It’s like being on the treadmill and not even understanding why you’re there.” 
Indeed, Shikhar Ghosh, a Harvard business school lecturer, studied 2,000 tech companies that started up between 2004 and 2010 and found that 90 to 95 percent fail. “Failure is the norm,” he has said.
"Us against the world?" Twenty-minute naps under your desk? Delirious and frustrated? Companies that want to "crush you out of existence." Working just to "survive another day?"

Gee, that sounds fucking awful. It sounds more like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, red in tooth-and-claw, than running any kind of business providing goods and services. What is the point of this again?

Is any of this really necessary? What the fuck has happened to the business world? And why does anyone think this is a good thing? It didn't used to be this way. Who benefits from this state of affairs? Based on the above, certainly not the workers or the owners. I don't really need anything these people are selling. So if it's not benefiting the workers, owners, or consumers, why exactly is working in business such a sheer hell?

Its seems like this competition economy isn't making people better off, it's destroying us. We're working ourselves literally to death just so we can get another fucking iPhone app? Maybe they can make an app to monitor employees' deteriorating physical and mental health.

And it's not just the business world, it starts in schools:
Anjan Chatterjee, a professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, who has published several influential papers on the ethics of smart drugs, tells me that he sometimes makes jokes about it. “When I was young, students would use drugs to check out. Now they’re using them to check in.”

He’s witnessed the rise, in the last 10 years, of a generation of American students doping themselves up on various medications they believe will give them a competitive edge. “It’s even in high schools now, especially in the more affluent suburbs. Students call them ‘study aids’; they don’t even think of them as drugs. There’s an entire grey market on campuses. But then, the current estimate is that a third of all students have a prescription for some sort of psychoactive medication anyway: antidepressants, or medication for ADHD, or for anxiety, so the availability is quite high. Often, they’ll just sell on the medication in the library.”

He believes that cognitive enhancement – or cosmetic neurology, as he calls it – is likely to become viewed as normal over time, in much the same way as cosmetic surgery has been. If it’s available, people will avail themselves of it. And his intuition “is that this use of drugs is not the cause of this sense of competition. It’s a phenomenon of it.” Smart drugs are part of a “parcel of broader cultural trends” that tap into something that is already within our culture. “And this is what does give me pause. It’s this relentless pursuit of productivity, and material productivity in particular that seems to be at the root of this. Going after drugs is a symptom of that underlying impulse.”
Students used to take drugs to get high. Now they take them to get higher grades (The Guardian)

The ultimate answer is, of course, that it is an arms race that benefits exactly no one. The example here is from Darwinian evolution as the excerpt below details. Everyone would  be much better off if we called off the escalating competition and took it easy, which would have no real downsides. The question is, will this happen in our winner-take-all, loser-gets-nothing, economy, or end up with people drugging and microchipping themselves into 24-hour-a day always-working psychosis and decrying others as "weak" and therefore worthy of elimination?
[Adam] Smith never believed that the invisible hand guaranteed good outcomes in all circumstances. His skepticism was on full display, for example, when he wrote, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” To him, what was remarkable was that self-interested actions often led to socially benign outcomes.

Like Smith, modern progressive critics of the market system tend to attribute its failings to conspiracies to restrain competition. But competition was much more easily restrained in Smith’s day than it is now. The real challenge to the invisible hand is rooted in the very logic of the competitive process itself.

Charles Darwin was one of the first to perceive the underlying problem clearly. One of his central insights was that natural selection favors traits and behaviors primarily according to their effect on individual organisms, not larger groups. Sometimes individual and group interests coincide, he recognized, and in such cases we often get invisible hand-like results. A mutation that codes for keener eyesight in one particular hawk, for example, serves the interests of that individual, but its inevitable spread also makes hawks as a species more successful.

In other cases, however, mutations that help the individual prove quite harmful to the larger group. This is in fact the expected result for mutations that confer advantage in head-to-head competition among members of the same species. Male body mass is a case in point. Most vertebrate species are polygynous, meaning that males take more than one mate if they can. The qualifier is important, because when some take multiple mates, others get none. The latter don’t pass their genes along, making them the ultimate losers in Darwinian terms. So it’s no surprise that males often battle furiously for access to mates. Size matters in those battles, and hence the evolutionary arms races that produce larger males.

Elephant seals are an extreme but instructive example.10 Bulls of the species often weigh almost six thousand pounds, more than five times as much as females and almost as much as a Lincoln Navigator SUV. During the mating season, pairs of mature bulls battle one another ferociously for hours on end, until one finally trudges off in defeat, bloodied and exhausted. The victor claims near-exclusive sexual access to a harem that may number as many as a hundred cows. But while being larger than his rival makes an individual bull more likely to prevail in such battles, prodigious size is a clear handicap for bulls as a group, making them far more vulnerable to sharks and other predators.

Given an opportunity to vote on a proposal to reduce every animal’s weight by half, bulls would have every reason to favor it. Since it’s relative size, not absolute size, that matters in battle, the change would not affect the outcome of any given head-to-head contest, but it would reduce each animal’s risk of being eaten by sharks. There’s no practical way, of course, that elephant seals could implement such a proposal. Nor could any bull solve this problem unilaterally, since a bull that weighed much less than others would never win a mate.

Similar conflicts pervade human interactions when individual rewards depend on relative performance. Their essence is nicely captured in a celebrated example by the economist Thomas Schelling. Schelling noted that hockey players who are free to choose for themselves invariably skate without helmets, yet when they’re permitted to vote on the matter, they support rules that require them. If helmets are so great, he wondered, why don’t players just wear them? Why do they need a rule?

His answer began with the observation that skating without a helmet confers a small competitive edge—perhaps by enabling players to see or hear a little better, or perhaps by enabling them to intimidate their opponents. The immediate lure of gaining a competitive edge trumps more abstract concerns about the possibility of injury, so players eagerly embrace the additional risk. The rub, of course, is that when every player skates without a helmet, no one gains a competitive advantage—hence the attraction of the rule.

As Schelling’s diagnosis makes clear, the problem confronting hockey players has nothing to do with imperfect information, lack of self-control, or poor cognitive skills—shortcomings that are often cited as grounds for government intervention. And it clearly does not stem from exploitation or any insufficiency of competition. Rather, it’s a garden-variety collective action problem. Players favor helmet rules because that’s the only way they’re able to play under reasonably safe conditions. A simple nudge—say, a sign in the locker room reminding players that helmets reduce the risk of serious injury—just won’t solve their problem. They need a mandate.

What about the libertarians’ complaint that helmet rules deprive individuals of the right to choose? This objection is akin to objecting that a military arms control agreement robs the signatories of their right to choose for themselves how much to spend on bombs. Of course, but that’s the whole point of such agreements! Parties who confront a collective action problem often realize that the only way to get what they want is to constrain their own ability to do as they please.
The Darwin Economy – Why Smith’s Invisible Hand Breaks Down (Farnham Street)

Welcome to the Brave New World. But what do I know, I'm just Darwinian roadkill.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Republican Extremism

I normally don't comment on party politics, but wow, have things gotten extreme.

The Republicans are battling tooth-and-nail to remove access to health care for the poorest Americans:
...Republicans are attempting one of the most brazen manipulations of the legal system in modern times. To pull it off, they’re relying on a toxically politicized judiciary to make law, and to make a mockery of everything that conservative legal scholars profess to believe.
In less than two weeks’ time, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell — the net result of a well-orchestrated, well-financed, five-year campaign to kill President Obama’s signature achievement by legal assassination. It’s a remarkably flimsy case, the plaintiffs may lack standing, and a host of business and health care professionals have said the consequences of backing the right-wing consortium behind this case could be catastrophic.

But none of that matters to at least four justices on the court who would rule in favor of a ham sandwich, if it meant overturning the health care law. If they get a fifth vote, more than eight million people in 34 states could lose their health coverage. Premiums for several million more would rise enough to make insurance impossible. Thousands of people, lacking basic care, may even die prematurely.

“The Supreme Court is going to render a body blow to Obamacare from which I don’t think it will ever recover,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas last month. He was licking his chops in anticipation.
They are also battling to stop the minumum wage from increasing:
A network of Republican lawmakers and their rightwing corporate funders are battling behind closed doors to block minimum wage increases in cities across the US, in a step-by-step counter-attack that could cut back the incomes of millions of Americans despite an economic upswing. 
According to strategic details obtained by the Guardian, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) – along with its localised sister organization, ACCE – is trying to prevent elected city representatives from raising the minimum wage to levels above those set by their states. The group has launched an aggressive dual-track mission that combines legislation and litigation in what Alec calls a “new battleground” over worker compensation.
Citizens of industrialized nations throughout the world enjoy universal access to healthcare and reasonable minimum wages. But not in America, the "leader" of the free world and defender of democracy.

They are also going to war against academia:
The fate of the 17-campus public university system was bound to be affected: While many here take pride in its carefully cultivated rise to the top tier of American public education, conservatives have long groused about some campuses, particularly the flagship school at Chapel Hill, as out-of-touch havens of liberalism. 
Since the recession began, the state government has also subjected the system to budget cuts leading to the loss of hundreds of positions. 
Twenty-nine of the 32 university board members were appointed by the Legislature after the Republicans’ 2010 gains. Last year, lawmakers instructed the board to consider redirecting some of the funding that goes to the system’s 240 centers and institutes, which focus on topics ranging from child development to African studies. 
The advisory group’s report, which is likely to be considered by the full Board of Governors next Friday, recommends closing the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at Chapel Hill; North Carolina Central University’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change; and East Carolina University’s Center for Biodiversity.
And are even attempting to prevent AP courses from being taught to students because they contain more than simple-minded propaganda:
This week an Oklahoma legislative committee voted overwhelmingly to effectively ban the teaching of Advanced Placement U.S. history classes. The bill’s author, Rep. Dan Fisher (R), said that state funds shouldn’t be used to teach the course — which students can take to receive college credit — because he believes it emphasizes “what is bad about America” and characterizes the United States as a “nation of oppressors and exploiters.” Fisher’s proposal to replace the ready-made, nationally used, college-recognized AP curriculum — studied by hundreds of thousands of high school students each year — with a homegrown substitute would cost the state an estimated $3.8 million. 
After facing national criticism, Fisher withdrew his bill this week and said he plans to submit a new one requiring a state “review” of the AP course rather than its complete defunding. 
But Oklahoma is far from alone in wanting to reinvent the wheel by creating its own, allegedly more patriotic version of advanced coursework. Policymakers in Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina and Colorado have agitated to scrap or doctor the AP course, citing its “liberal bias” and supposed focus on U.S. “blemishes.” The Republican National Committee likewise called on Congress last year to withhold funding from the nonprofit that developed the course, the College Board, because its AP course “emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.” In Colorado, where a local school board proposed revamping the AP curriculum to make sure it does “not encourage or condone civil disorder [or] social strife,” some brave students decided to demonstrate the virtues of civil disorder and social strife by peacefully protesting. 
In some states, U.S. history isn’t the only AP course to come under attack. In both Oklahoma and Kansas, legislators have threatened to bar or defund any curriculum not developed locally, which could disqualify all AP and International Baccalaureate classes from being taught in the public schools.
Of course, say it with me, "both sides are equally extreme." That is the mantra we must constantly repeat in the U.S. because eventually it will become the truth, apparently.

You know, I hear all the time from various pundits about the supposed extremest regimes around the world, whether it's Erdogan in Turkey, Orban in Hungary, Maduro in Venezuela or the celebrated foe of the moment Vladimir Putin, as well as all the so-called "far right" parties in Europe (none of whom hold real power). Yet the Republicans are arguably the most powerful party in the United States and (less) arguably one of the most right-wing, extremist and radical in the world. Why are they never mentioned in the same breath as those names above?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Is Nutrient Deficiency the Cause of Social Breakdown?

While researching this post, I came across this article which detailed just how depleted of vitamins and minerals our vegetables are. I had heard some statistics before, but these are truly frightening:
A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.
“Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Davis, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.” There have likely been declines in other nutrients, too, he said, such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B-6 and E, but they were not studied in 1950 and more research is needed to find out how much less we are getting of these key vitamins and minerals.
The Organic Consumers Association cites several other studies with similar findings: A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal,found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent. Yet another study concluded that one would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.
Soil Depletion and Nutrition Loss (Scientific American)

And then I ran across this fascinating article in the context of America's imprisonment spree: Is Pellagra the Root Cause of Violent Shooting Rampages?
Dr. Weston A. Price, a researcher in the 1930′s found that primitive tribes eating a whole foods, natural diet high in animal foods and animal fat had no need for prisons. The moral character of these isolated people was strong. They were not incapacitated mentally or physically. In his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Price describes his travels around the globe, and he marveled at the stellar character of these people who had no access to modern manufactured foods.

On page 486 of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, is a shocking clue to the mystery of the scourge of violence amongst young people.

    “While pellagra was being investigated as an interesting curiosity in Europe, it was becoming a way of life in the Southern United States…The general diet consisted of cornmeal and grits, soda biscuits, corn syrup and salt pork; and even when they had enough bulk of food, the Southerners developed sore skin and mouths, became thin and listless, and suffered from depression, hallucinations, irritability and other mental disorders.

    The clinical description of the typical poor Southerner, any time between about 1900 and 1940, comes alive in the novels of William Faulkner–the brooding sullenness, suddenly shattered by outbursts of irrational anger, persecution, mania, the feeling of people living in a cruel and demented world of their own…Doctors knew very well that diet was at the bottom of all the misery they saw around them, and that disease could be kept at bay by a balanced food supply…”

Compare the modern junk food diet to the diet of poor Southerners: cereals, food bars, corn chips, crackers, and the high fructose corn syrup found in energy drinks and sodas. Not too dissimilar!

Vitamin B3 or niacin deficiency is the cause of pellegra. When I googled Pellegra and violence, sure enough I find a letter to a U.S. Senator by Barbara Stitt, an author who once worked as a probation officer. She found that changing the diet of ex-offenders eliminated the hostility and other symptoms that would lead them to act out in a criminal fashion.

Her book is aptly titled, Food & Behavior: A Natural Connection and her work seems to confirm the findings of Dr. Weston A. Price on nutritional injury and the role it plays in juvenile delinquency and adult crimes.

A review of Barbara’s book mentions her concern about reactive hypoglycemia, sub-clinical pellegra and vitamin B deficiencies being at the root of violent criminal’s actions.

Check out this revealing quote from the review:

    “The startling part of sub-clinical pellagra, like hypoglycemia, is that the symptoms also mirror those of schizophrenia, a problem so widespread that those who suffer from it occupy one out of every four hospital beds in the United States.”
Is Pellagra the Root Cause of Violent Shooting Rampages? (Hartke Is Online)

One is forced to wonder whether the junk-food diet fed to America's poor classes is at least partially responsible for the deteriorating state of the poor in America today. Note that most crime is in so-called "food deserts." Note that McDonald's junk food is primarily marketed to children. Go into any McDonald's, particularly in urban ghettos, and you will see poorer families using McDonald's as both cook and babysitter for their litter. The Little Caesars in the strip mall near my house always has a line literally out the door in weekends. Observing these people, they are almost always lower-class families with lots of young children, and  five-dollar pizzas is sadly the only way they can afford to feed their families.

Here's an article on the same subject by the Guardian:
That Dwight Demar is able to sit in front of us, sober, calm, and employed, is "a miracle", he declares in the cadences of a prayer-meeting sinner. He has been rocking his 6ft 2in bulk to and fro while delivering a confessional account of his past into the middle distance. He wants us to know what has saved him after 20 years on the streets: "My dome is working. They gave me some kind of pill and I changed. Me, myself and I, I changed."

Demar has been in and out of prison so many times he has lost count of his convictions. "Being drunk, being disorderly, trespass, assault and battery; you name it, I did it. How many times I been in jail? I don't know, I was locked up so much it was my second home."

Demar has been taking part in a clinical trial at the US government's National Institutes for Health, near Washington. The study is investigating the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplements on the brain, and the pills that have effected Demar's "miracle" are doses of fish oil....

For the clinician in charge of the US study, Joseph Hibbeln, the results of his trial are not a miracle, but simply what you might predict if you understand the biochemistry of the brain and the biophysics of the brain cell membrane. His hypothesis is that modern industrialised diets may be changing the very architecture and functioning of the brain.

We are suffering, he believes, from widespread diseases of deficiency. Just as vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, deficiency in the essential fats the brain needs and the nutrients needed to metabolise those fats is causing of a host of mental problems from depression to aggression. Not all experts agree, but if he is right, the consequences are as serious as they could be. The pandemic of violence in western societies may be related to what we eat or fail to eat. Junk food may not only be making us sick, but mad and bad too.

Essential fatty acids are called essential because humans cannot make them but must obtain them from the diet. The brain is a fatty organ - it's 60% fat by dry weight, and the essential fatty acids are what make part of its structure, making up 20% of the nerve cells' membranes. The synapses, or junctions where nerve cells connect with other nerve cells, contain even higher concentrations of essential fatty acids - being made of about 60% of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.

Communication between the nerve cells depends on neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, docking with receptors in the nerve cell membrane.

Omega-3 DHA is very long and highly flexible. When it is incorporated into the nerve cell membrane it helps make the membrane itself elastic and fluid so that signals pass through it efficiently. But if the wrong fatty acids are incorporated into the membrane, the neurotransmitters can't dock properly. We know from many other studies what happens when the neurotransmitter systems don't work efficiently. Low serotonin levels are known to predict an increased risk of suicide, depression and violent and impulsive behaviour. And dopamine is what controls the reward processes in the brain.

Laboratory tests at NIH have shown that the composition of tissue and in particular of the nerve cell membrane of people in the US is different from that of the Japanese, who eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids from fish. Americans have cell membranes higher in the less flexible omega-6 fatty acids, which appear to have displaced the elastic omega-3 fatty acids found in Japanese nerve cells.

Over the last century most western countries have undergone a dramatic shift in the composition of their diets in which the omega-3 fatty acids that are essential to the brain have been flooded out by competing omega-6 fatty acids, mainly from industrial oils such as soya, corn, and sunflower. In the US, for example, soya oil accounted for only 0.02% of all calories available in 1909, but by 2000 it accounted for 20%. Americans have gone from eating a fraction of an ounce of soya oil a year to downing 25lbs (11.3kg) per person per year in that period. In the UK, omega-6 fats from oils such as soya, corn, and sunflower accounted for 1% of energy supply in the early 1960s, but by 2000 they were nearly 5%. These omega-6 fatty acids come mainly from industrial frying for takeaways, ready meals and snack foods such as crisps, chips, biscuits, ice-creams and from margarine. Alcohol, meanwhile, depletes omega-3s from the brain.

To test the hypothesis, Hibbeln and his colleagues have mapped the growth in consumption of omega-6 fatty acids from seed oils in 38 countries since the 1960s against the rise in murder rates over the same period. In all cases there is an unnerving match. As omega-6 goes up, so do homicides in a linear progression. Industrial societies where omega-3 consumption has remained high and omega-6 low because people eat fish, such as Japan, have low rates of murder and depression.
An earlier pilot study on 30 patients with violent records found that those given omega-3 supplements had their anger reduced by one-third, measured by standard scales of hostility and irritability, regardless of whether they were relapsing and drinking again. The bigger trial is nearly complete now and Dell Wright, the nurse administering the pills, has seen startling changes in those on the fish oil rather than the placebo. "When Demar came in there was always an undercurrent of aggression in his behaviour. Once he was on the supplements he took on the ability not to be impulsive. He kept saying, 'This is not like me'."

Demar has been out of trouble and sober for a year now. He has a girlfriend, his own door key, and was made employee of the month at his company recently. Others on the trial also have long histories of violence but with omega-3 fatty acids have been able for the first time to control their anger and aggression. J, for example, arrived drinking a gallon of rum a day and had 28 scars on his hand from punching other people. Now he is calm and his cravings have gone. W was a 19st barrel of a man with convictions for assault and battery. He improved dramatically on the fish oil and later told doctors that for the first time since the age of five he had managed to go three months without punching anyone in the head.
Omega-3, junk food and the link between violence and what we eat  (The Guardian)

Is our diet driving us crazy? Look at the poor social outcomes. Look at increasing diseases like ADHD and teenage depression and suicide. Look at bullying, school shooting rampages and poor impulse control. The majority of America's children in public schools are considered low-income.  And junk food filled with GMO wheat and corn syrup is specifically marketed to poor Americans. Even vegetables may not help since they are so depleted of essential nutrients. And it's been shown that meat raised in CAFOs has a bad Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratio, substances that are necessary for proper brain growth and development as noted above.
In a landscape dominated by golden arches, dollar menus, and value meals serving up to 2,150 calories, fast food has been much maligned. It’s fast, it’s cheap, but we know it’s generally not good for us. And yet, well-touted statistics report that Americans are spending more than ever on fast food:

    In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music—combined.
Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Will Industrialized Foods Be the End of Us? (SciAm)

Is the supposed poor behavior of Americans that conservatives like Charles Murray use to blame the poor for their plight actually caused by the atrocious foods they are forced to eat by agribusiness? Note that in the past, even the poorest Americans had better diets than many of the middle classes almost anywhere on earth, including large amounts of pasture-grazed meat. Individual behavior seemed a lot more calm and controlled back then. Look at old photos of people, and you can see an intelligence and quiet dignity in the eyes of even the poorest people. The people are calm and well-dressed. Look at the quality of school textbooks back then. Look at the front pages of newspapers compared to today. Exams given to secondary school children would baffle graduate students today. Look at the quality of rhetoric in the Lincoln-Douglas debates compared to today's televised spectacles - and those debates were targetted at the average voter.
If you live in America, you must have an inkling of these changes too. If you're one of the educated class - and if you're reading this, you probably are - then you must have had at least a glimpse of how the other side lives. You must have seen the awful "food" that they eat, the wrecked, destroyed state of their bodies. You must have at least seen hints of their broken family lives. Just the other day I got my hair cut in a poor white neighborhood, and the barber spent the whole time telling me about "that bitch" who was the mother of his children. No matter how thick the Belmont Bubble, you must have seen hints like this. And if it doesn't hurt you to see Americans living that sort of unhealthy lifestyle, then I don't know what to say to you.
America is separating into peasants and scholar-gentry (Noahpinion)

Today we have the disintegrating social behavior that conservatives tut-tut about - the drug abuse, the ugly ill-fitting wardobes, the bodies festooned with tattoos, the thuggish behavior, violence and divorce.

People of Wal-Mart

I wonder if this can explain history too. Humans evolved to eat a certain diet over millions of years (the lifetime of the genus Homo). When civilization got started, eventually the diet rich in fish, meat and vegetables got confined to a small slice of upper-class wealthy people, while the majority of people were forced to subsist on grains, porridge, beer, etc.
The great nutrition divide paralleled distributions in wealth. Peasants who worked the land relied on gruel and flatbreads to see them through the winters—their bounties were collected and stored to feed city residents.[v] The best foods were prepared in the kitchens of royalty, aristocracy, and merchants—those who had the means to purchase excess and diversity. (ibid)
And that's when civilization got violent. Although Steven Pinker thinks that violence actually declined when that happened, I'm not so sure. We have plenty of data, including written records, of the wars and violence and slaughter of hierarchical states and empires. Prior to that, we have little evidence of the amount of violence in the daily lives of humans. Pinker's data for this period is comprised entirely of some skeletal remains in various places which constitute a vanishingly small percentage of the human race prior to civilization. In other words, there is a paucity of data in this time period relative to historical data, and that is undeniable. And plenty of people have put forward valid criticisms of even the data that Pinker used from Keeley, Gat, et. al.

Based on the above, nutritional deficiencies that became widespread throughout society after the rise of agriculture and hierarchical states based on grain monocrops would almost certainly cause more violence, not less. It's hard to believe that civilizations with their masses of impoverished slaves, serfs and peasants subsisting on a diet of grains were worse than the hunter-gatherer period when hunting a single mammoth could feed a tribe for a month, and fish and nutritious vegetables were there for the taking (early human populations seem to have migrated by hugging coastlines). Indeed, we can make the case that humans' "natural" diet is elephant meat, seafood, tubers, fruit and nuts. Agriculture strip-mines nutrients from the soil, so such depletion would have been widespread in the past too, as we know soil erosion has been. What we know from actual history (as opposed to speculative reconstruction) is that states and empires have been roiled by constant military conflict and everyday violence as far back as we can tell. Note that decaying empires have increasing levels of violence (Mesopotamia, Rome, China). Is malnutrition a neglected cause of social decline violence?

If the above is true, we can accept that as our food supplies are squeezed by climate change, and corporations continue to engineer our food for their own benefit and the best food is available only to the wealthy few, things will get worse, not better. We need equality in diet more so than anything else.

BONUS: Update on the Lead as the cause of crime theory (Mother Jones)