Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Teacher Thank You

Inspired by some of my creative girlfriends, and with desire to thank James' teachers for being a blessing while we transition him from home with babysitter to daycare, I picked up a few Starbuck's gift cards as a small "thank you".

Using mini notecards and envelops, I created a message for each teacher that said "Thank You for making school fun" to include with the $10 gift card.

The envelops were created with my favorite "Honey Script" font.

I hope they like them!  

On the way home from school yesterday, James and I stopped at Starbuck's and had a little date.  He insisted on bringing Monkey and wubby (his blanket) inside too.  He ordered the chocolate milk and I had an iced tall 2-pump mocha.  We sat on the patio and chatted, "cheersings" our drinks too many times because he thinks its funny and I'm addicted to the sound of his laugh and the way he looks when he can't contain the laughter.  It was a sweet 15 minute stop on the way home that just might become a weekly tradition.

Man, I love this kid!!!  So, do you have any special "dates" with your kiddos?  I remember loving hearing about Cassie's holiday dates with her kids last year.  It's such a precious thing to be able to create and enjoy these moments with our kids and family.  

Allowing underwater borrowers to refinance could help

Yves Smith and Adam Levitin, for whom I have enormous respect, argue that allowing underwater borrowers to refinance their mortgages at lower rates would not help the housing market very much.  I am not so sure.

Consider a borrower with a six percent mortgage whose house is worth 80 percent of the mortgage balance.  Let's also say that it is four years into its mortgage--so it has 26 years remaining on its term.  If house prices remain flat, it will be 11 years and 9 months before the mortgage balance drops to the value of the house. 

Suppose we were to convert the mortgage to a 4.5 percent mortgage but left the mortgage payment the same.  In the first month, the amount of principal payment would increase by 2.35 fold.  The borrower would be above water in 5 years and 5 months (I have a spreadsheet with the calculations, should anyone be interested).  If house prices rise by two percent per year, the 4.5 percent borrower would be right-side up in less than four years.  Helping borrower see a light at the end of the tunnel could really make a difference (I don't see borrower in Las Vegas ever seeing that light, but not everyone is in Las Vegas).

Personally, I would rather see some principal reduction too, but allowing free refinancings on Fannie and Freddie mortgages could materially benefit the housing market.

Pioneer Woman

Although her blog is wildly popular, I wasn't really familiar with The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummund, until I found her cookbook while browsing Barnes & Noble with my husband and son on a recent Saturday morning.

I love Ree's story of how she met her Marlboro Man and he rescued her from the hectic pace of city life in exchange for life on a ranch.  Our lives seem impossibly different as I live in the 4th largest city in the U.S. and she lives in a small town ranch.  But I just enjoy her so much!  Not to mention that she is a photographer with amazing talent for capturing beautiful real-life images.  Her tutorials are awesome too.

This weekend I recorded and watched her new show on Food Network.  She cooked the kind of food that I know my husband wishes I would cook for him (chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes - with lots of butter - and gravy from the grease drippings, and sausage breakfast sandwiches).   I think it would make my hubby so happy, so I'm gonna surprise him and cook it for him this week:)

Did you catch the show too?  What did you think?  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Top 10 Least-Polluting U.S. Metros

From the Urban Land Institute:

Top 10 Least-Polluting U.S. Metros: As greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction policies

gain momentum at the federal and metropolitan levels, a new study about urban

areas’ GHG emissions levels could have implications for real estate


It is stirking that LA is among the best 10, and is not materially different from Portland and is even a little better than Boston and Seattle. To be fair, the climate here is mild in both winter and summer (while it can get hot during the day, it almost always cools into the 60s or lower at night), and this allows us to avoid cranking up furnaces and air conditioners. But Portland and Seattle have pretty mild climates, too.

One could argue (and some have), that LA has accomplished this by being anti-business, hence driving polluters--along with their jobs--to other states. This may be correct, but ultimately, everyone is going to have to control carbon emissions. Perhaps this will give LA a first mover advantage.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Upholstered Headboard

Our bedroom is on my list of rooms in our house that I'd really like to revamp.  We brought to our new home the furniture we had in our old townhouse and it doesn't reflect the look I'd like to achieve, so some changes are in order.  

I plan to replace our dark square leather headboard for a curved upholstered headboard.  I think it will soften the room and give it a more romantic, peaceful quality that I'm after.

The leather club chair and ottoman need to go too.

The bedroom below from Love This Life is one of my favorites.   I love the monochromatic look that is still interesting.  The gorgeous paneled ceiling and floor to ceiling windows don't hurt either!

The Ashley Goforth designed bedroom is another one of my favorites.

And I've always admired this peek at the bedroom below.

I've seen some gorgeous DIY upholstered headboards, but I'm not that ambitious, so I've been searching the different varieties for sale.  We have a king bed, so that's what I've been looking for.

I'm leaning towards the High Fashion Home one because it's not just the headboard, and it also has nailhead trim.  But I'm not crazy about the price.  What do you think?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What does Warren Buffett know?

When I first read this morning that Warren Buffett had invested $5 billion in Bank of America, I was puzzled.  I didn't know how Buffett could figure out the costs of likely mortgage repurchases from securities issued by Countrywide/Bank of America.

I thought perhaps that Buffett had hired an army of analysts to go through the securities and figure out their value.  But Nicholas Santiago (h/t Yves Smith) has the more likely explanation:

3. Warren Buffett has made a career of investing in troubled companies for the sake of the economy. The last time he made an investment such as this one was back in 2008 with Goldman Sachs Group Inc.(NYSE:GS). It is important to remember that Goldman Sachs was bailed out by the tax payer in what was called the TARP program. Buffett knows that the U.S. taxpayer will bail him out if he is wrong and Bank of America stock does go belly up. 
[Disclosure: I own a few shares of Berkshire-Hathaway B-shares]. 

Robert E. McCormick and Robert D. Tollison on the NCAA's Subversion of the Academy

This is worth reproducing (with the kind permission of the authors) in its entirety:

Two great American institutions are about to crank up. Freshman and their older classmates will soon start returning to campuses for fall classes. Soon thereafter or about the same time, fans will fill stadiums and the 2011 college football season will begin. These two events come together almost naturally and have for over 100 years. The former may be one of the best examples anywhere of competition among universities and colleges, but the latter is surely one of the best examples of a cartel. Recent athletic resignations and firings at Ohio State, Georgia Tech, and now most recently the University of North Carolina demonstrate that the corrupting influences of the NCAA cartel on the academy have reached the highest levels of our public universities. Doubtless there are few people on earth who care less about the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill than us (since it is a prime competitor in intercollegiate sports), but in spite of this, the time has come to stand up and be counted on the athletic scandal that has engulfed UNC-CH and so many other institutions of higher learning in our country (including Georgia Tech and Ohio State). UNC-CH is not just a university, it is regularly rated as one of the top five public universities in the United States.

What is the root of the problem here? We assert it is the enormous economic rents, or free money, that have been created by the NCAA cartel. Moreover, no college or university can be expected to withstand the ill-gotten gain that lurks underneath the NCAA banner. The NCAA is a cartel of the major athletic universities in the United States that sets wages, playing conditions, and other aspects of intercollegiate athletics. Most prominently of these is a restriction on payments to football and basketball players. These two sports create billions of dollars in local and national revenues via gate receipts, TV contracts, and ancillary merchandise, not to mention millions of dollars annually at member schools in donations by alumni and other supporters of athletic programs.

Coaches sign multi-year multi-million dollar contracts while players get tuition, room and board, and recently, only because of an important court case (White v. NCAA), some pocket money to cover the cost of living. Big chunks of these revenues also go to support other men and women athletic teams on campuses, swimming, track, golf, soccer, and the like. None of this would be possible but for the overarching cartel agreement between all of the major U.S. colleges and universities operated under the umbrella of the NCAA.

Both of us have long held, along with numerous other economists (such as Gary Becker and Robert Barro), that the NCAA’s cartel harms the market, the world, and the athletes, but now we are prepared to claim more. To wit, this crisis in athletics puts the American system of higher education at risk.

Despite our earlier disclaimer, UNC-CH is an incredible academic institution, a virtual colossus of graduate education, research, and professional education. Yet with all its storied history and social importance, the school has put its institutional credibility and brand name at risk by succumbing to the perverse incentives created by the cartel, a cartel whose primary function is to maintain a fa├žade of amateurism on the one hand while aggressively pursuing commercial profits on the other. Never mind the morality of the arrangement. Focus instead on what this temptation has done to the University, and remember that this has been happening at lesser schools for a long time. Now that it has reached the ranks of most elite universities, it is hard to argue that any school is immune from becoming ensnared in the inevitable trap that lies in the huge gulf between amateur inputs (the lowly paid players) and professional outputs (massive TV contracts, alumni donations, and ticket prices).

Hear us clearly, we are NOT arguing to pay players. We are lamenting the diminution of the reputation of a top ranked public university and the warning signal that it sends about the dangers of the incentives created in this case. We believe in amateurism, deeply. But we believe that it should apply broadly to the coaches, the fans, and all the rest of the participants in intercollegiate sports. If amateurism is a shrine, then let us all worship it. The fans should get to see the games for nothing or nearly so (the costs of facilities and game day services). The coaches should be faculty or volunteers as they are in Little League and in local neighborhoods. It is not amateurism, but the business of intercollegiate athletics is a growing cancer bound to infect other storied American institutions of higher education.

Where does the fault lie? It lies plainly on the shoulders of the NCAA cartel. We propose that our school, Clemson, and the rest of the schools in the ACC leave the organization, sit down, take stock and decide whether the Ivy League approach is better for the ACC (no athletic scholarships) or whether the players should receive reasonable compensation. We do not take a position on the issue. Each league within the NCAA should do the same, and we doubt that they will all choose the same course. Some will go the Ivy route, others the payment route. And that is as it should be. There should NOT be one authority in control of almost all collegiate athletics in the United States. Competition is salutary, and it should prevail both on and off the field.

Cartels are a bad bargain. They raise price to consumers, reduce output and social welfare, and enrich one class of participants at the expense of another, creating envy and strife. The NCAA cartel is especially perverse because it disadvantages young people (often from challenging backgrounds) to the advantage of adults. And worse, it is morally corrupting to these same young people, compounded by the fact that it derives from the same university institutions society has charged to nurture them to adulthood.
At present, coaches, even those trying to live by the rules, daily confront moral dilemmas and choices. But the nature of the restrictions creates two sets of rules (written and unwritten), and our young college students, both the athletes and their classmates, are not being taught to play by the rules. They are being taught, “everyone cheats, we got caught, it is no big deal.” Paying under the table is okay. Having tutors write term papers is okay for athletes who are working their rear ends off to practice especially if they are good and the team is winning.

Students are being taught that ends matter, but means do not. Our educational system is built upon honor, integrity, and the search for truth as bedrocks. Yet these same foundations are washed away on a regular basis by phenomenal dollars made available by the cartel. What is a young person to believe? That it is wrong to crib on a test or plagiarize a term paper, but okay to lie to the NCAA investigator? That it is right and proper to offer a helping hand to those less fortunate or in need, but wrong to do so if they have signed an athletic scholarship? Our universities need to stand for our culture, and our culture should not be about lying, half-lying, deviousness, and cheating.  There is only one way to end cheating- resolve the conflict between amateurism and professionalism, either by making both sides professional or both sides amateur. But the current situation is unsustainable and puts institutions of higher education at risk.
We contend that the moral fiber of the university is one of its most powerful social virtues. It helps bring young people to adulthood with a care and concern that things are done correctly and on the up and up ethically.

There is a clear positive implication of our argument. Cheating teaches cheating, and it is a mistake to think that our kids will not watch what we do instead of what we say. The scandals that now infect the best universities in the land will almost surely lead to more and more academic dishonesty and disregard for the basic traditions of the academy if something does not happen to reverse course. Cheating in the athletic department begets cheating in the classroom and perhaps generally  in life. This is a prediction of our argument albeit a depressing one.

It is critical to note that we are big fans of the coexistence of athletics and academics. Our  research speaks loudly and clearly on this. We support athletics as part of university education and think the two together make for the best organizational arrangement. Our cry is NOT about athletics, but about the NCAA cartel that creates the rents and free money that shred the moral underpinnings of our home, the academy.
A la Ronald Reagan, we say tear down the wall around truth and dignity. Clemson, UNC, Georgia Tech, and all the rest should refuse the financial inducements offered by the NCAA. Return to amateur intercollegiate sports, or pay the players. Nothing less than the integrity and quality of our universities is at stake.
The passage that really hits home to me is: "Students are being taught that ends matter, but means do not. Our educational system is built upon honor, integrity, and the search for truth as bedrocks. Yet these same foundations are washed away on a regular basis by phenomenal dollars made available by the cartel. What is a young person to believe?"

Mason Jar Delight

Lately I've been feeling that itch to create something pretty.  I'm a little rusty in the crafty department these days, but I think that a mason jar project is in order!  So many things you can do with those age-old jars!

This Christmas snow globe is so cute too- I can't believe Christmas is just 4 months away! Can you?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fall Table Decor

I think it's in the air- first it's back to school, then on to the fall season ripe with pumpkin spice lattes and fall decor.  Designer Alicia Wicker put together a super cool post with links to awesome sources for affordable fall table decor.


Oh, I couldn't help myself. I caught myself dreaming. Wishing, wanting, thinking about decorating for Fall. I so don't need anything else right now and not a single spot to store new stuff.

Then I thought, maybe you'd like something to get your Fall table decor a new splash of life. It's not like you'd have to buy all this stuff, just a couple new things might just be what you need. Oh and when you go out and get the new stuff and your honey asks about it, just tell him... "It was on sale."

2011 Fall Table Decorations

If you click on the image, it will take you to a PDF, which has clickable links, just like the Mood Boards that I create for clients do. Neat, huh. Oh, and I'm telling you there are some screaming deals. Like that Two-Tier silver plated charger?? Oh, it's under $10. Yes, it is. Small at 12", but good for decor you want to change out at an affordable price point.

The bottom row items are from Pottery Barn. So, not as cheap, but so cute. I lurve it mucho. Con queso. And there's your espanol lesson for the day. You're welcome.

p.s. These aren't affiliate links. I don't make a dime on anything you may click.


Isn't that awesome!  I'm inspired to do something different for our table this year too.  I'm gonna need to take down the summer mantle too and replace it with some fall fun!

If you are interested in Alicia's design services, you can visit her website here

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Two cents (or maybe a nickel) on Texas.

Texas is doing well relative to the country.  Its jobs creation rate is second only to North Dakota, a state whose population is smaller than Austin's.  It has large in-migration because of jobs, and as one blogger points out, wages are rising faster in Texas than [most] other states, so one cannot credibly make the argument that its success is entirely a "race to the bottom outcome."  The fact that Texas only relies a little more than average on construction for its employment base shows that its job performance is not the result of an unsustainable housing construction boom of the Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Central California variety.

In an ideal world, we would run some regressions explaining Texas' growth, but we haven't sufficiently up-to-date data to do that.  We do know that some things matter in general for growth: climate (which I don't think even Rick Perry is claiming credit for); fraction of the population with a BA, and, if I may refer to work I did five years ago, availability of air transportation.

Texas does well in two out of three indicators: since World War II, people and jobs have moved to warmer places such as Texas, and Dallas is a hub for two airlines and Houston is a hub for one.  Texas is below average, however, in the share of adults with BAs and graduate degrees.

So why is Texas doing well?  First, it has managed to maintain its state and local government spending far better than most other states, and has not had the negative stimulus arising from massive layoffs. Over the past decade, government job growth in Texas has outpaced private sector job growth by about 2 to 1.

Second, Texas has among the most stringent consumer protection laws in finance in the country--likely arising from a long-standing Western mistrust of bankers.  As a consequents, consumers were essentially forbidden from using their homes as piggy banks.  As Mike Konczal shows, this means Texans have far less debt to pay off (it also shows how we in California are still in the soup).  So "heavy-handed" regulation helped keep Texas out of trouble.

Finally, it is simply easier to develop everything in Texas--housing, businesses, etc.  This is the one part of the conservative view of Texas that I buy--as one Los Angeles planner said to me, it takes 18 months in LA to do what it takes six weeks to do in Dallas.  LA doesn't even have by-right zoning.  It is here where I think Texas has an enormous advantage for business development over California.

That said, California has a greater share of people with BA's than Texas.  Part of the reason why may be that well-educated people, who can afford to live in a place that takes environmental protection seriously, do so.    There is actually some good reason for California's stringent environmental rules--the air quality here, while much better than it used to be, is still not good enough.  Of the ten cities with the worst air quality in the country, six are in California.  But the cities with the worst air quality outside of California are Houston and Dallas; someday voters in those cities are going to demand better.  I do think California can do a better job of protecting its environment while making business development easier, but that is the subject of another post.

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

Last weekend, I went into the Michael Kors store in search of these shoes, which they didn't have in stock.

But then I saw this purse!  Love it for something different. 

I usually buy purses with shoulder straps, so the carry handle is different for me.  Still getting used to it.  Are you making fall fashion purchases yet?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School

I'm thinking this morning of all those kiddos going back to school.  My heart is going out to all the mommies (and daddies!) that watch tearfully, but proudly as their babies start school for the first time.  My little guy started last week but I can't quite say it's "school" since he's just barely 18 months.  We had to transition from our at-home babysitter because, she too, is returning to school.  I'm happy to report that James is doing so great with his new routine.  When I drop him off in the mornings around 9:00 it's playground time, which he loves.  When I picked him up the first day, they were playing musical chairs and James was dancing, smiling his head off and laughing!  Such a good sight for an anxious mama.

I tried to get a picture of him on the first day, but he was running around so much, I couldn't get a good shot:)  He has to wear tennis shoes instead of his usual Crocks, so it makes him look like such a little boy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cost and benefit

I listened to a colleague of mine on Friday discuss how nothing adds to our carbon footprint like flying-and I have little doubt that he is right.  Mark Twain one wrote,  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”  I am pretty sure that is right too.

Triumph of the Rentier City?

I am teaching a senior honors seminar this fall.  Among the readings is Ed Glaeser's new book, TheTriumph of the City.  It is a perfect book for smart undergraduates--it is well written, thoughtful, and thought-provoking.  It is also packed with fun facts.

Early on in the book, Ed celebrates the resiliency of Manhattan, noting that "[b]etween 2009 and 2010, as the American economy largely stagnated, wages in Manhattan increased by 11.9 percent, more than any large county."

This passage brought to mind Vernon Henderson's pioneering work on large cities and favoritism.  He writes:

This enhanced role of government in the urbanization process over the years has resulted in a corresponding bias, where certain regions and cities are heavily favored in terms of capital and fiscal allocations, giving favored regions a cost advantage. 
New York is wonderful, but it has been given an enormous cost advantage in the aftermath of the financial crisis.  It's institutions received cheap capital in the form of TARP; a near zero Federal Funds Rate also amounts to a large subsidy for financial institutions.  Banks can currently make profits just by playing the yield curve.  These profits have helped restore Wall Street bonuses (and hence incomes of everyone else in Manhattan), but that doesn't mean they reflect productive activity.

I don't want to make too much of this: TARP was necessary, and the low Federal Funds rate is necessary too.  New York is a great and resilient city.  But it is also home to many too big to fail institutions, and thus has political and financial advantages that, say, Chicago and San Francisco lack.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Thank you to everyone who entered the recent giveaways and it's time to announce the winners!


I will email you with the details of claiming your prize!

Have a great weekend everyone! For those of you with kiddos heading back to school- I hope everything goes smoothly getting them ready! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer "To Do" List - FAIL??

I had to laugh when I just looked back at the post I wrote on June 20, 2011 proclaiming my summer to do list!  My husband just declared it an epic FAIL!

I have accomplished all of TWO of the NINE things on the list!  We managed to get to the beach for a little vacation and my hubby and I recently went on a date.

Planting the hydrangeas- um, no.  BBQ with friends- not so much.  Swimming lessons and bike rides- my bike has a flat tire!

But I can't really say it was a complete fail.  Because this summer we played like crazy with James and relaxed and enjoyed ourselves and our new home.  Lots of time was spent in our backyard with a little inflatable swimming pool, a homemade sandbox, and sidewalk chalk.  Many a popsicle and ice cream cone were eaten.  Naps were taken and photos were snapped.

I'd say it's been a GREAT summer!

P.S. The winners of Black & Decker Steam Mop giveaway and Ali Grace giveaway will be announced Friday.  Go HERE and HERE to enter!

Even in principle, figuring out a fair tax system is hard

How does one set up a system such that everyone pays their fair share of taxes?  Let us suppose that a "fair" tax is one where everyone gives up the same share of utility to pay for public goods.  One could formulate this such that

U(X(L)-L-t)/U(X(L)-L) = K

The idea is that the fraction of utility one keeps after taxes is the same for everyone.  X is consumption; the amount one gets to consume is a function of effort, L.  To make things easy, we will assume people consumer their incomes, so that income and consumption are the same. Assume that utility function has the shape U' > 0 and U" < 0.  K is dependent on how much society wishes to spend on public goods.

Just this simple formulation presents three problems.  First, the fair rate of progressivity will be a function of the magnitude of U".  For instance, if we assume log utility, U' = 1/(X-L) = U" = -1/(X-L)^2.  This means U" gets very small very rapidly, which also means that the need to increase marginal tax rates in income to maintain the above definition of fairness gets quite small.  We do know that taking money away from people at or below subsistence levels of income will lead to substantial diminution of utility, but beyond that point it is hard to say how sharply progressive taxes need to be in order to be fair.

Second, the correspondence between consumption and effort is not one-to-one.  If the correlation between consumption and effort is less than one--and I will go out on a limb and say that it certainly is--taxing income actually only approximates taxing utility.  The lower the correlation, the worse the approximation.

Finally, defining effort is a problem.  As Matthew Yglesias notes, NYU professors make a lot less money than Wall Street bankers, but their life might well be better.  Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems to me that the -L in a steel worker, coal miner, or line worker is a lot bigger than mine, and so looking at income alone is adequate for approximating utility.

So what to do?  Here is why, despite my liberal leanings, I find a flat tax with a large exemption and a large earned income tax credit appealing.  The rate would have to be sufficient to raise revenue, and would apply  equally to all type of income.  Deductions would be limited.  Such a set up would assure that Warren Buffett would pay no less a share of his income than anyone else.  Bob Hall proposed a similar plan 15 years ago.  I would dress it up with the earned income tax credit.  

Jewelry Storage

I saw this jewelry organizer in my Container Store catalog and I thought it was so cute- for only $18!  It's nice to be able to see your necklaces and earrings- I know I'll forget what I have if I can't see it!  I previously blogged about how I organize my jewelry last year.  If you missed it, you can go HERE to see it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Two GOP Governors stuck in a 1950s Economy

I heard Wisconsin governor Scott Walker speak in Madison a few months ago.  His economic strategy for the state?  Smokestack chasing and belittling Illinois--in fact, I think he said "Illinois" (followed by various synonyms for "sucks") more often than he said "Wisconsin."  He did say he loved teachers though--sort of the way husbands say they love their wives after they are arrested for assaulting them.

Now Rick Perry says in his campaign announcment:

The change we seek will never emanate out of Washington, D.C. It will come from the windswept prairies of Middle America, the farms and factories across this great land, from the hearts and minds of the goodhearted Americans who will accept not a future that is less than our past…patriots who will not be consigned to a fate of less freedom in exchange for more government. We do not have to accept our current circumstances. We will change them. We are Americans.
Farms now produce a little more than one percent of GDP.   And while the US is still the world's leading manufacturer by output, automation has continued to reduce jobs in manufactuning--a reduction that will continue in the years to come, regardless of the health of the economy.

Where does change come from?  From Silicon Valley.  From Route 128.  From the Research Triangle.  From labs at Cal Tech and MIT and, yes, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Texas.  Also from Hollywood, from fashion designers in New York, from sneaker designers in Oregon, and, like-it-ot not, from Pharmaceutical Companies in New Jersey, New York and Indianapolis.  These are things we do that the rest of the world envies.  These are things that happen in cities. And yet not a word about any of it.

PPD 498 Fall Syllabus

PPD 498: Senior Honors Seminar in Policy, Planning and Development
University of Southern California
Professor Richard K. Green

This is a senior honors course on topics in Urban Development. This emphasis of the course is on reading, presenting and critically reviewing some classics, old and new, on issues important to those who wish to do research on cities and their regions.

The requirements of the course are three:
(1) Doing the reading before class and participating in class. Your performance in participating will determine 1/3 of your grade.

(2) Leading a ½ hour class discussion on a reading of your choice. You will need to get clearance from me on the reading, and you must let me know your proposed reading by October 1, 2010. This will determine another 1/3 of your grade.

(3) A critical literature review of a topic of interest to you involving an urban topic. The lit review must discuss a minimum of five papers (more would be better) and should be 15-20 double spaced, 12-font, pages long. This will determine the final 1/3 of your grade.

All of USC’s academic conduct rules apply to this course; because you are choosing to be in it, I am assuming this will not be an issue with any of you.

Topics and Readings
August 25 Lenses of Social Science
George Orwell, Why I write.

September 1 New York
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities I

September 8 Growth in Cities
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities II
John Quigley (1998) Urban Diversity and Economic Growth, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 12(2):127-38.

September 15 Urbanization and Development
J. Vernon Henderson (2004), Urbanization and Growth, Brown University Working Paper
Marianne Fay and Charlotte Opal (1999), Urbanization without Growth, World Bank Research Working Paper.

September 22 Sprawl
Reid Ewing (1997), Is Los Angeles-Style Sprawl Desirable? Journal of the American Planning Association, 63:1, 107-126.
Peter Gordon and Harry Richardson (1997) Are Compact Cities a Desirable Planning Goal? Journal of the American Planning Association, 63:1, 95-106.
George Galster, Royce Hansen, Michael Ratcliffe, Harold Wolman, Stephen Coleman and Jason Freihage (2001), Wrestling Sprawl to the Ground, Housing Policy Debate, 12(4), 681-717.

September 29 Anti-Sprawl
Ed Glaeser, The Triumph of the City I

October 6 Agglomeration
Ed Glaeser, The Triumph of the City II
Paul Krugman, Development, Geography and Economic Theory

October 13 Guest

October 20 Housing
Stephen Malpezzi (1996) , Housing Prices, Externalities and Regulation in US Metropolitan Areas, Journal of Housing Research, 7(2) 209-242.
Richard K. Green (1996), Should the Stagnant Homeownership Rate be a Source of Concern, Regional Science and Urban Economics.

October 27 Cities and Health
Charles Rosenberg, The Cholera Years.

November 3
William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis I

November 10
William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis II

November 17
Student Led Discussions I

December 1
Student Led Discussions II

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Designer Finds at Discount Prices

Is summer really coming to an end?  If fall is approaching, at least I have this to look forward to:  
On Tuesday September 13, the Missoni for Target collection (said to contain over 400 pieces from home decor to clothing) arrives in Target stores nationwide!  Prices for the products range from about $3 to $600, but most will be under $40.  Only 30 more days:)

Go here to see the entire collection!

Excited?  I love the tableware, the teacups/saucers, and laptop case.  The luggage and throw are pretty cute too!