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After a standard-issue Washington drama, Chuck Hagel was confirmed last night as Secretary of Defense. Underneath the chatter about the difficult confirmation process, you can hear political types wondering why Hagel was worth it to the President. Obama dropped potential Secretary of State nominee Susan Rice in the face of opposition, but for some reason stuck with Hagel, who doesn’t seem to be much of a political win. He is a Republican, which has a nice bi-partisan feel, but all other Republicans in Washington seem to hate him, so his...

February 27, 2013

A recent poll of Texas voters contained a shocking number:  Sixty-one percent of Texans support either civil unions or gay marriage.  It is another sign of the incredible shift on gay rights in America. Not long ago that this level of support for legal recognition of gay couples in a conservative state like Texas would have been unthinkable. It was just ten years ago that the Supreme Court declared a Texas law against homosexual conduct unconstitutional.  And it was just two presidential elections ago, in 2004, that George W. Bush and Karl Rove...

February 25, 2013

Being the architect of a high profile building, like being a movie director or politician, inevitably earns you a lot of criticism. People with no skill in design or engineering feel free to dismiss your years of hard work.  But that’s what comes with building stuff in a free society – everyone’s a critic.

So with apologies, I offer these nominees for the biggest disappointments in architecture.  Note that this is different than the three ugliest buildings, as I’m sure there are many that are far worse.  This designation accounts for both...

February 21, 2013

There is a lot of justified concern lately about economic mobility-- the degree to which someone in America can exceed the status of the family into which they are born.  Boundless opportunity is a feature of our society we've always been proud of -- Lincoln's log cabin, Horatio Alger, Henry Ford's modest beginnings -- but it has come into question lately.  Some academic studies have suggested the United States lags behind other western nations in this area. Those international comparisons can be tricky -- the US is so different from a country...

February 19, 2013

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