Texas Iced: The culprit of Texas’ power misery is energy price policy — not wind, not gas, not nuclear power

When all is said and done, the one big takeaway from Texas’ week of freezing agony amid a power blackout is that recovery will be time-consuming and horribly expensive -- ironically so since the culprit was a system designed to be price competitive. There are some opportunities to accelerate creation of true resilience, including microgrid concepts capable of serving small islands of load when the...

State of the City – How Paris foreshadowed today’s urban politics of displacement and segregation

Review: Paris – Capital of Modernity, by David Harvey, 2006, 230 pp., Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group Joint editor’s note: Like so many cities, Austin is in a process of rapid transformation. To better understand this moment and its consequences for the city’s residents, we can draw on insights from other places and periods. This review is the first in a new series called The State...

A ‘Clean Slate’ law to make Texas’ justice system fairer would also reduce odds of future crime

Reentry. It sounds simple enough. Once someone is released from prison, they need to reenter society. Popular culture often discusses this psychological and social predicament. One need look no further than movies like Shawshank Redemption, a thriller charged with a tough social realism. But the reality is that the task isn’t as simple as overcoming mental issues or brushing up on employment skills. For the vast...

A small piece of a big law, the ransacking of the Capitol, and the uncertain future of Big Tech

Talk about timing. On Jan. 7, 2021, less than 24 hours following the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Los Angeles Times published a defense of “Section 230,” the legislative language that many have identified as being a key enabler for the social media-fueled assault against the legislative branch. It’s likely to be the last robust defense for a while. In the run-up to the ransacking of the...

How policing’s new digital tools paste a data-based veneer over old systemic problems of discrimination

If America is to learn how to police better, it actually must learn how to police less. So argues author and University of Texas at Austin sociologist Sarah Brayne, who spent months embedded with the Los Angeles Police Department to examine the use of sweeping new data tools -- which she concluded may be creating more problems than they solve. “We are focusing on how we can...

A kaleidoscopic moment shapes a new mosaic, as forces conspire to create a social new order

Children, inescapably, have a fascination with kaleidoscopes. They don’t need to know that the kaleidoscope was invented in 1816 by Sir David Brewster or that the word comes from the Greek words kalos (“beautiful”), eïdos (“form”), and skopeïn (“to view”) to fully absorb the experience. The wonder of the scope is to observe a spectrum of colors ‘locked’ into a unique and wonderful geometric mosaic. Slowly...

Remembering King in this year to end systemic racism, defeat White supremacy, and achieve a racially just country

The commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday resonates differently this year. The celebration of perhaps the most important civil rights leader in American history takes place against the backdrop of a White supremacist insurrection against the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. The desecration of the citadel of democracy triggered the unprecedented second impeachment of a sitting U.S. president, underscoring the perilous nature...

A signpost called Trust at the crossroads of America’s diverging and evermore partisan pathways

Review: Trust – America’s Best Chance, by Pete Buttigieg, 2020, 215 pp., Liveright/Norton Endeavoring to read and produce a review of a book called Trust amid the events of recent days was both a challenge and an unexpected inspiration. For Trust – America’s Best Chance, written by former Democratic candidate for President, Pete Buttigieg, is really about the lack of it – a reality so vividly on...

Perhaps you will consider this a eulogy

I see myself in the television screen (where the man stands in a sweatshirt that says “6 million was not enough”) when I was six years old with my mother and sister staring up at it in the snow with a fever and a headache   I feel that heat (those aching bones), can almost touch the remnant snow ...

The just society and knowledge economy now towering on the post-pandemic horizon

In the classical Greek myth, Pandora opened her infamous box, releasing death, destruction, and untold suffering into the world, much like a virus called COVID-19. But then she closed it as quickly as she could, and she trapped inside one remaining human attribute.  This was hope.  Throughout this series on my journey through a pandemic, I’ve sought to be candid about my own experience, through the phases...