Author Archives: Editor

What Ancient Houses Tell Us About McMansions and Inequality

Archaeological ruins in the outline of a house, with trees and mountains in the background

A larger house in El Palmillo, a site in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo: Linda Nicholas. It’s not hard to tell rich neighborhoods from poor neighborhoods. Wealthy parts of town generally have nicer cars, clean, well-groomed lawns, and, most strikingly, giant sprawling mansions. It’s nothing new: across cultures, wealth and power have been tied to large homes for thousands of years.

A group of scientists, including Field Museum anthropology curator Gary Feinman, recently explored the link between house sizes and inequality. Based on a sample of more than 60 cases, they discovered that on the whole, patterns of inequality in Eurasia over […]

LSU gets millions in BP oil settlement money to study how to make drilling in Gulf safer

Billions at stake as latest phase of BP civil trial opens _lowres

Louisiana researchers are getting the lion’s share of $10.8 million of BP oil settlement money to figure out ways to make offshore drilling safer and prevent disasters like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine announced the distribution of the $10.8 million in awards on Thursday, with LSU engineering professor Wesley … ( continue reading )
Associated Press file photo — In this April 21, 2010, file image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Louisiana researchers are […]

Asia’s New Politics of Outrage

Stunning mini-revolutions have erupted in recent months in two of the world’s largest Muslim countries. The first shock came in Indonesia, where a little-known group of activists led a mass protest against the Christian governor of Jakarta. Accused of disrespecting the Prophet, the governor, a close ally of the country’s president Joko Widodo, is now in prison . In Pakistan in late November, another pop-up political outfit besieged the capital city Islamabad, forcing the government to concede to all their demands, which included the harsh implementation of blasphemy laws.

Neither country suffers from a scarcity of laws aimed at detractors […]

N.C. Senators vote to ignore the poor, serve the rich

Richard Burr and Tom Tillis voted enthusiastically last week for the Senate tax bill. No hesitation on the home front. The North Carolina boys are all in for the McConnell-Trump knavery.

Burr and Tillis know, or should, the following. The United States is the wealthiest country on earth. It also has higher poverty, and especially, child poverty rates than any other advanced nation. It has the advanced world’s greatest income inequality – the largest gaps between rich and poor. It has among the worst economic mobility rates – if you’re born poor here, you are more apt to stay that […]

Richest one percent now owns two-fifths of America’s wealth, new study claims

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, were widely ridiculed last month for posing with a sheet of dollar bills at the US Mint The wealthiest one percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth , according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Woolf. That share is higher than it has been at any point since at least 1962, according to Woolf’s data, which comes from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances.

From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the one percent shot up by nearly three percentage points. Wealth owned by […]

Across the Great Divide

An American homestead in 1910. The best revolutions end in topplings—of statues, regimes, and Weinsteins. Others prove to be more smoke than flame. While heady days of Occupy Wall Street are long over, the national conversation they ignited about economic inequality still smolders. Since protesters decamped from Zuccotti Park, Thomas Piketty has become a household name, a populist has claimed the presidency, and universal basic income has gone from fantastical subreddit to serious policy proposal.

Among developed countries, the United States has the most dramatic —which is to say, the worst—income inequality of any democracy in the world. Today, the […]

To save the American dream in Texas, focus on providing opportunity

Economy Photo by Shelby Knowles

The American Dream isn’t dead, but in Texas, it needs a dose of medicine. That’s not a political statement, just an objective reading of the data. The data tell us we have work to do if we hope to meet the goals set to help the state continue to thrive economically.

Sure, many parts of the state — mainly the metropolitan areas and, especially, some of the suburbs — continue to thrive. Even Houston is doing fine, despite a prolonged slump in oil prices that dramatically slashed energy payrolls. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas recently […]

BP to settle Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

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The size of an oil spill fine BP has said would imperil its U.S. operations in the Gulf of Mexico

HOUSTON — BP has agreed to pay a record $18.7 billion to settle federal and state claims against it for its role in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, sidestepping years of litigation with a promise to pour funds for nearly two decades into efforts to repair vast environmental damage in the Gulf region.

The pact, subject to court approval, would require the London oil major to pay the sum over the next 18 years in installments of $1.1 billion a year for most of the payment period. Weeks of negotiations between BP and the Justice Department ended in a […]


Formatting a thread over into a post. Late last night I noted that most beyond a certain age are unlikely to be single. Once you hit around 40, the chances are probably lowest in terms of availability. Then as you go beyond that it begins to fall off again due to divorce, eventually loss of partner. Between 35-55, chances are slim in terms of availability. So as I approach the next age group myself, I’ve started to worry and am now thinking of the clock.

This post is less about me and more so about some stuff which I’ve had […]

8 reasons Finland’s education system puts the US model to shame

Finland flag

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Finland’s repeated success in national education rankings suggests there are at least a few lessons the US can learn.

For one, the tiny Nordic country places considerable weight on early education. Before Finnish kids learn their times tables, they learn simply how to be kids — how to play with one another, how to mend emotional wounds.But even as kids grow up, the country makes a concerted effort to put them on a track for success.Here are some of the biggest ways Finland is winning in global education. 1. Competition isn’t as important as cooperation. Flickr / David […]