First, some personal news, if you'll indulge me: After 17 years on the Charlotte Observer's editorial board I was among a small group of employees offered a buyout and I accepted it. My last day of work at the newspaper will be June 17. That means this blog will vanish from the ether that day.
I intend to keep blogging, but I don't have a new site set up yet. Keep watching the blog before June 17 for more details about where you can find my work in the future. (And yes, I have some new job prospects but nothing to announce at this point.)
So that's why I've been digging through old files and various email folders tucked here and there. And I've found some tidbits of things you'll enjoy.
I'll do anything, officer, just make the mimes go away ...: This article from a 2010 edition of City Journal (produced by the libertarian-leaning Manhattan Institute) discusses one of my favorite urban stories ever – how Bogotá, Colombia, used mimes to make people obey traffic laws. The article tells "about former Bogotá, Colombia, mayor Antanas Mockus’s use of mimes to mock jaywalkers, reckless drivers, and other scofflaws. ... The mimes had a noticeable impact on compliance with traffic laws. The mayor reported that traffic fatalities fell by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2003." Want to see a photo of the mimes, and more about Mockus? (He also donned a Superman costume and acted as "Supercitizen," using humor to get residents laughing, but behaving better.)
I wonder if Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe has considered hiring a mime troupe to enforce (or scare) misbehaving youths at uptown's next street festival? Or would roving bands of chamber musicians serve as prevention?
Maybe, sometimes, a pencil really isn't just a pencil: Another fun story: "Tall buildings, short architects" from Slate magazine last December. From what we've seen in Charlotte, short bank CEOs also seem to have an affection for tall bank towers. And those tall buildings that claim to be so green? Here's a look at evidence that after a certain point, those high-density towers are less environmentally sound than mid-rise buildings.