How to Be an Ex-President

September, 2014:

At the Smorgasburg food fair in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Mikheil Saakashvili motored in fluorescent green sneakers among bearded men with tattoos and women in revealing overalls. They lined up for Cheese Pops, Dun-Well Doughnuts and other local delicacies. He ordered a coconut. ... Mr. Saakashvili is in self-imposed exile on North Seventh Street — plotting a triumphant return, even as his steep fall from grace serves as a cautionary tale to the many American government officials who had hoped he would be a model exporter of democracy to former Soviet republics. READ MORE

A New York Superlative

The mean income of the top 5 percent of households in Manhattan soared 9 percent in 2013 over 2012, giving Manhattan the biggest dollar income gap of any county in the country, according to data from the Census Bureau The top 5 percent of households earned $864,394, or 88 times as much as the poorest 20 percent, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which is being released Thursday and covers the final year of the Bloomberg administration.
The meaning of this statistic, which still maintains a limited ability to shock in our post-Piketty era, will magically unravel itself in due time as many of the remaining the poor find themselves simply pushed off the island—by rising rents, by new condos, by eminent domain—and the upper bounds of wealth begin to resemble the needle-thin skyscrapers being constructed to contain so much that wealth: an asymptote reaching toward infinity.

The Mathematics of Re-Calibration

An electorate reshaped by a growing presence of liberal millennials, minorities, and a secular, unmarried and educated white voting bloc will most likely force Republicans to recalibrate. ... When Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, white voters without a college degree made up 65 percent of the electorate; by 2012, that number had dropped to 36 percent.
The latter statistic is more complicated than it seems, in large part because more people than ever are getting college degrees—33.5 percent of people between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-nine had a bachelor's degree in 2012, versus 24.7 percent in 1995 versus 21.9 percent in 1975, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Given that the rise has benefitted minorities and, in particular, women, while the share of people from low-income families attaining those degrees has "remained relatively flat over the last several decades," what's been eroded, in part, is the bastion of white men who were able to skip college and attain a middle-classish existence, leaving the remaining uneducated whites exposed and isolated, economically and, increasingly, socially—making them angrier and louder and, unfortunately for them, their views ever more toxic to the nationally minded politicians who once clamored for their votes. If Democrats can win today on issues of reproductive rights and gay marriage in the South—if only occasionally, for now—who will be left representing the poor, conservative white man in a decade? READ MORE

The Economics of Plugged Leaks

Mr. Balazs insists on privacy, discouraging cellphone pictures by guests. Employees surrender their phones during working hours and submit to “the most draconian sort of confidentiality agreements,” he said. READ MORE

Anniversary Commemorated

In ordering a sustained military campaign against Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, President Obama on Wednesday night effectively set a new course for the remainder of his presidency and may have ensured that he would pass his successor a volatile and incomplete war, much as his predecessor left one for him...the widening battle with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will be the next chapter in a grueling, generational struggle that has kept the United States at war in one form or another since that day 13 years ago on Thursday when hijacked airplanes shattered America’s sense of its own security.
Happy 9/11, everyone.

View Cloudy

A question about the forthcoming Nordstorm Tower, freshly rendered by YIMBY: At which floor of the one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five foot tower—which, though it is one foot shorter than One World Trade Center, because of the elevation of midtown, will be the tallest point in the city—will residents' view of Central Park be blocked by clouds? Not that it should matter terribly much during the fall and winter, when the building will cast a four-thousand-foot shadow across the park, since they should be some place much warmer anyway, like Miami or São Paulo.

Journalism Extremely Successfully Funded

The Huffington Post, a publishing company worth hundreds of millions of dollars that is nestled within AOL, a media company that has a market cap of nearly three-and-a-half billion dollars, has successfully convinced people to donate forty thousand dollars to it, as if it were a charity in need of the largesse of its readers, in order to "to ensure on-the-ground coverage from Ferguson remains a part of the national conversation." It is truly a golden age of journalism.

Laws of Nature

There are certain inexorable laws of nature that every building in New York City must abide by. For instance, the taller your building—and the higher your personal residence within it, well: READ MORE

How to Count to Infinity

As a child, one might have imagined counting to ten billion in the course of reckoning with the seeming infinitude of enormous numbers. This is actually impossible to do in a human life time, since it would take over three hundred years. But, as an adult, one might discover that he can simply will himself from zero to that number, or even more—at least as long as he is counting in dollars, as the founders of Snapchat and Uber have discovered, whose companies are now valued at more than ten billion dollars. A lingering question: now that the ten-billion-dollar frat has become a little less exclusive, who will be the first to reach infinity?

Neighborhood Demographics Shifting

"But walking around the East Village, I just want to cry at the state of it. There are so many fuckin’ jocks everywhere! It’s like a frat house everywhere. There are all those terrible bars like The 13th Step, and it’s just spreading over to A and B. And now, in Williamsburg, you have all these frat guys dressed as alternatives. I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times, but where are the real weirdos?" They have apparently moved to Park Slope.