In my pile

1. Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.  Self-recommending.  I've browsed a few pages and he seems like…such a normal, happy man.

2. Bengt Holmstrom and Jean Tirole, Inside and Outside Liquidity.  This is a take on what follows from the imperfect pledgeability of corporate assets, by two of the world's leading economic theorists.

3. Jonathan Bendor, Daniel Diermeier, David A. Siegel, and Michael M. Ting, A Behavioral Theory of Elections.  The point is to predict both turnout and voting behavior (hard to get both right at once in a model), and the authors a computational model on top of all of that.  I have long been wanting more behavioral public choice.


Hi! I also have quite a large pile of books on my night stand. They have to do with marketing and business management.

"Our Greatest Invention": is he claimimg to be a Sumerian?

What a strange name you have. 1) Not caring about your students seems as immoral to me as it does to you, but nowadays it may be the only way to survive in academe. I left academe 4 years ago in order not to care about academe and I can tell you I am much more normal now. 2) However I am still addicted to nicotine. Cigars at 6am (just after farewelling his wife) shows he is trying to give up. You should not hold your prof's addiction against him. It is quite normal. Fortunately for unemployed academics some of the best nicotine lozenges are regularly heavily discounted in supermarkets, so you can live to old age and still enjoy the buzz. What I'm trying to say is your prof may be a complete bastard, but that's normal.

While I generally agree with much of what Edward Glaeser has to say about cities and skyscrapers, it should be noted that he nevertheless has greatly misunderstood and therefore mischaracterized the writings of Jane Jacobs with regard to 1) high-densities, 2) high-rises, 3) old buildings and 4) what makes for healthy urban districts in general.

Later today I hope to post on the comments page of the online "Atlantic" some more specifics about this; but the quick and easy argument is the following: don't just accept my word for it, just read what Jacobs, herself, actually had to say with regard to these issues. Read the relevant portions of "Death and Life of Great American Cities," and see for oneself 1) whether Jacobs thought high-densities were good or bad for cities; 2) whether high-rises were good or bad for cities; 3) why Jacobs believed a mix of old and new buildings was good for cities; and 4) whether or not Jacobs thought that high-density urban districts with high-rises (like Rockefeller Center, the Carnegie Hall area and parts of the East Side) were good or bad for cities.

For the first three issues, this is relatively easy, as one only has to read about three chapters of the book to get a good sense of Jacobs' real arguments: "The need for mixed primary uses"; "The need for aged buildings"; and "The need for concentration." (There even are some instances where what Jacobs writes directly refutes the inaccurate characterizations.) To see where Jacobs stands on the fourth issue is a bit more difficult because the evidence is a bit more indirect and scattered throughout the book. But one way to investigate this issue is to skim the book and keep an eye out for all the healthy urban districts (in New York City and across the country) that Jacobs discusses and praises that are NOT Greenwich Village (e.g., the East Side of Manhattan; the Carnegie Hall area; Rockefeller Center; etc.) and to also note her various strategies for revitalization of problematic "downtowns," such as NYC's downtown financial district (Wall St.) -- it's NOT to transform them into Greenwich Villages.

Benjamin Hemric

Fri., Feb. 11, 2010, 7:55 p.m.

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