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New Book — A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas for a Better Society by Marc Fleurbaey

December 17, 2018 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book — A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas for a Better Society by Marc Fleurbaey

I have one last book on my desk to post about as 2018 is coming to an end: A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas for a Better Society by Marc Fleurbaey:

At this time when many have lost hope amidst conflicts, terrorism, environmental destruction, economic inequality and the breakdown of democracy, this beautifully written book outlines how to rethink and reform our key institutions – markets, corporations, welfare policies, democratic processes and transnational governance – to create better societies based on core principles of human dignity, sustainability, and justice. This new vision is based on the findings of over 300 social scientists involved in the collaborative, interdisciplinary International Panel on Social Progress. Relying on state-of-the-art scholarship, these social scientists reviewed the desirability and possibility of all relevant forms of long-term social change, explored current challenges, and synthesized their knowledge on the principles, possibilities, and methods for improving the main institutions of modern societies. Their common finding is that a better society is indeed possible, its contours can be broadly described, and all we need is to gather forces toward realizing this vision. (Cambridge University Press)

This is an academic book, not a quick read or a pretty coffee table book. However, serious topics often require academics to offer solutions to societies big problems.

The following is a list of the 8 chapters from the two sections:

Part I: Sources of Worry, Reasons for Hope:

1. Global Successes and Looming Catastrophes

2. Globalization and Technology: Choices and Contingencies

3. The Expanding Circle of Respect and Dignity

4. The Big Challenge

Part II: Acting for Social Progress

5. In Search of a New “Third Way”

6. Reforming Capitalism

7. From the Welfare State to the Emancipating State

8. From Polaritics to Politics

Chapter 6, Reforming Capitalism, is a favorite topic of mine. I began scanning this chapter last night, but was too tired to absorb much. Will need to try again when I’m more alert.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Think An Earthquake Will Strike St. Louis During Your Lifetime?

December 16, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Think An Earthquake Will Strike St. Louis During Your Lifetime?
Please vote below

Last week two earthquakes, 4.4 & 3.3, hit Eastern Tennessee (source).  You’re probably wondering when Eastern Tennessee has to do with St. Louis Missouri, right? Nothing, directly.  It seems they’re in a dangerous fault zone.

The only other regions east of the Rockies with that much hazard potential are in the South Carolina Seismic Zone (limited to South Carolina’s central coastal area) and the New Madrid Seismic Zone (which includes much of West Tennessee as well as smaller areas of Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Illinois). (Knoxville News Sentinel)

Oh right, so are we.  Yeah, but were’s not California, Washington, or Alaska.

In contrast to California, however, the consequences here could be more far-reaching because faults in the Mississippi Valley are buried under sedimentary deposits up to a mile deep. These conditions allow seismic waves to travel as much as 20 times farther than they do in California. As a result, a moderate New Madrid quake would shake a seven-state region — Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Indiana — like a bowl of jelly. (Riverfront Times)

Our neighbors in Louisville KY are taking notice:

In 2008, the U.S. government announced that an earthquake on the New Madrid Seismic Zone could cause “widespread and catastrophic” damage in the area and “the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States,” according to Reuters.

“The big thing we prepare for is with New Madrid,” Bobel said. “Depending on the significance of an earthquake, Memphis, Tennesee, would be gone, St. Louis would be wrecked.” (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Of course, nearly every article mentions the big earthquakes that happened over two centuries ago:

The 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes were an intense intraplate earthquake series beginning with an initial earthquake of moment magnitude 7.5–7.9 on December 16, 1811, followed by a moment magnitude 7.4 aftershock on the same day. They remain the most powerful earthquakes to hit the contiguous United States east of the Rocky Mountains in recorded history. They, as well as the seismic zone of their occurrence, were named for the Mississippi River town of New Madrid, then part of the Louisiana Territory, now within the US state of Missouri. (Wikipedia)

While none of us can accurately predict when, or if, an earthquake will occur I thought this would be a timely topic for a non-scientific Sunday Poll:

There’s no right or wrong answer to today’s poll.  As usual, this poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 27 of 2018-2019 Session

December 14, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 27 of 2018-2019 Session
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 27th meeting of the 2018-2019 session. This is the last full board meeting of 2018, meetings will resume on Friday January 11, 2019.

Today’s agenda includes eight (8) new bills:

  • B.B.#182 – Ingrassia – An Ordinance amending Section 10 of Ordinance No. 69735, effective May 25, 2014, and codified in Section 11 of the Revised Code, relating to the identification of High Merit historic properties in the City that are undergoing demolition by neglect, with addition of a new subsection C to Section 10 of Ordinance No. 6973 regarding the determination of Undue Economic Hardship.
  • B.B.#183 – Number Not Used This Session
  • B.B.#184 – Muhammad – Pursuant to Ordinance 68937, an ordinance authorizing the honorary street name Rep. Joshua Peters Way, which shall begin at the intersection of North Newstead and Penrose and run north on North Newstead to the intersection of North Newstead and Carter.
  • B.B.#185 – Vaccaro – An Ordinance establishing a four-way stop site at the intersection of McCausland and Bancroft regulating all traffic traveling eastbound and westbound on Bancroft at McCausland and regulating all traffic traveling northbound and southbound on McCausland at Bancroft, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#186 – Bosley – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 3861 St. Louis Ave.
  • B.B.#187 – Kennedy – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 4965-4975 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.
  • B.B.#188 – Ingrassia/Green/Rice – An ordinance to designate portions of the Tower Grove East Neighborhood as a Local Historic District under provisions of Title Twenty-Four of the Code of the City a complete description of the boundaries of the District more fully described in the body of this ordinance, and providing for a development plan including Design Standards to be applied within the district and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#189 – Coatar/Ingrassia – An ordinance approved and recommended by the Preservation Board and the Planning Commission pertaining to the Lafayette Square Historic District; amending Ordinance 69112, repealing and replacing certain standards for the Lafayette Square Historic District as set forth herein.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

 

Only One of Four Rams-Related Lawsuits Settled

December 12, 2018 Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on Only One of Four Rams-Related Lawsuits Settled
The Rams played here for 21 seasons

In writing the recent post introducing the Sunday Poll I goofed. A readers comment left on the Facebook link explains my mistake:

You are mixing up 2 different lawsuits.

The lawsuit you referenced in 2017 is St. Louis City, St. Louis County and the Regional Convention and Sports Authority against the NFL for Breach of Contract for not being honest in their statements as the plans for a new stadium were being developed.

That lawsuit is still quite a while from any determination.

The lawsuit settled this week was a class action lawsuit of Rams Personal Seat License Owners vs. the Rams alone, claiming they had the rights to buy tickets for 30 years. Since the Rams left after 21 years, they asked for their money back and/or the right to buy seats at the new Rams stadium in LA.

The settlement in this suit was the Rams paying back 30% of the amount of the PSL.

In my hurry to finish the post I wasn’t as thorough as usual, my apologies.  After the fact, I’ve done the research I should’ve done earlier.

In September the Post-Dispatch explained four ongoing lawsuits:

  • One lawsuit involves future ownership of the Rams’ former practice facility in Earth City, known for years as Rams Park.
  • A second involves fans who bought tickets and team merchandise in the final years of the Rams’ time in St. Louis.
  • A third is a class-action suit on behalf of thousands of PSL (personal seat license) holders from the team’s 21-season stay in St. Louis.
  • The fourth, and biggest of the four, basically challenges the way the Rams, the NFL, and the 31 other NFL teams and owners went about the process of relocating the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

It’s the third lawsuit over PSLs that has been settled.

The original PSLs were good for 30 seasons, coinciding with the 30-year length of the stadium lease at what was once called the Edward Jones Dome. As such, they would be good through the 2024 season, but then the Rams moved to LA after 21 seasons in St. Louis.

The suit sought a refund for the unused nine years worth of the seat license fee plus damages, and in some cases the chance to buy Rams season tickets in Los Angeles. Citing a Forbes article, the suit said the average price of the original 46,000 licenses was $2,085 per ticket for a total of about $96 million.

The case itself involves more than 20,000 ticket accounts. (Post-Dispatch)

The other mistake I made was not making the poll question controversial, so the responses were far fewer than usual. The results can be viewed on the original post.

Again, my apologies for these mistakes.

— Steve Patterson

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Not Every IKEA Purchase Requires a Car; New ‘Planning Studios’ Will Serve Dense Urban Cities

December 10, 2018 Featured, Retail Comments Off on Not Every IKEA Purchase Requires a Car; New ‘Planning Studios’ Will Serve Dense Urban Cities

This post is about our personal IKEA shopping habits and about how IKEA is changing course to respond to a new retail landscape.

IKEA St. Louis opened on October 1, 2015, since then I’ve been many times — Mostly in my wheelchair via public transit. A few visits were just browsing, most were small purchases that would fit in the canvas bag I keep on the back of my wheelchair.

My most common IKEA St. Louis purchase has been food: This is veggie balls with vegetarian black bean sauce, steamed veggies, Swedish apple cake, and tap water. This is from 2016

Very different from the many trips I’d previously taken to the two IKEA locations in the Chicago area — my car would be stuffed to the ceiling, the receipt long, and the total in the 3-4 digits. At least twice I ordered from a 3rd party company to have a large order picked up from Chicago and delivered.

It wasn’t until September that we made a local IKEA purchase that required our car, a new bed frame.

Our biggest IKEA St. Louis purchase after checkout
We couldn’t close the trunk, we had to use twine to keep the trunk lid from staying open

This was nothing compared to earlier purchases, but with IKEA store so close there’s no reason to wait and make a big purchase. Last month I got an email from IKEA about comforters on special pricing for IKEA Family members for 3 days only. Since we needed a new comforter to go with our larger bed, I returned in my wheelchair.

My most recent visit was in the wheelchair. I plugged the chair in to recharge while I used a shopping cart to go to bedding and get a new comforter.

While IKEA St. Louis is close to downtown, that’s not true for locations in other regions. In places like NYC not everyone is willing to travel out to the edge to shop. So IKEA is forced to respond:

IKEA U.S. announced today that it is opening its first city center store in the U.S., marking the company’s ongoing transformation and commitment to bringing IKEA into the heart of urban areas. The ‘IKEA Planning Studio’ is slated to open in Manhattan in spring 2019.

Globally, IKEA is adapting and evolving to be more accessible and convenient for customers wherever they are and they recently announced the development of 30 new touchpoints in city centers over the next three years. The New York City location is the first market in the U.S. for the Planning Studio concept.

“We recognize that we are in a rapidly changing retail environment, and to be fit for long-term growth, IKEA is transforming in a way that lets us meet our customers where they are,” said Lars Petersson, Country Manager, IKEA Retail U.S. “New York City is the natural choice to open the first city center store – the most vibrant, dynamic city in the US, and the epicenter of retail, business, and culture.” (IKEA)

Manhattan is just the first in the US to get this new concept, but other cities will follow:

Ikea’s move into Manhattan comes as many retailers — including Target, Kohl’s and Macy’s — are shrinking their existing full-size stores or experimenting with opening up smaller-format locations in densely populated markets such as Manhattan, Los Angeles and Chicago. As more and more shoppers are turning to the internet to ring up purchases, companies are finding they don’t need as much real estate. (CNBC)

Don’t expect to see an IKEA Planning Studio in St. Louis. Again, our full-size IKEA is just a few miles from downtown. With the recently-opened CORTEX MetroLink light rail station the store is easy to reach via transit. A bus line stops right out front.

The idea that every purchase requires a car is false. No doubt many drive to IKEA St Louis and fill their car before returning home, but when you’re just a short transit trip away grabbing a bite to eat making a small purchase (or not) is very easy. I’m glad to see more retailers realizing they need to change to attract customers who live in dense urban centers.

— Steve Patterson

 

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