Volume 1-2019

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The RCJ provides RSS feeds from well-respected news organizations, giving our readers a convenient portal through which to stay abreast of world events and issues. Use the links provided. The following are on the RCJ Front Page Report homepage (scroll both columns to the right).

The New York Times

The Huffington Post

The Economist


These are provided on other pages within this site:


Politics Daily

Wall Street Journal

Ezra Klein's WonkBlog - Washington Post

Nuclear Threat Initiative




Rolling Stone


Other sites worth visiting:

Political Punch (ABC News Blog)


9-11 Liberals and Salman Rushdie

Police Force "Bombing" in Iraq

Anatomy of a Screwing

Fix America Now

Iceberg Economy: How the Supply Siders are Sinking the Ship of State

Bloomberg Illustrates Dodd-Frank Regulations for Investors

DAVOS WEF Points Out Single Points of Failure in the New Global Economy

Soulless Possession of Santo Niño

What Keeps NBC's Chuck Todd Up at Night?

"King of Bain" - Documentary on Mitt Romney's Private Equity Firm Bain Capital

Robert Smigel's Lost Ode to the Evil of General Electric

Riddle This: Do Our Governmental Systems Hinder Mitigation of Harmful Influences to Our System of Government?

The Achievement Metric - Time for a New Way of Determining Public Policy and Positioning Revenue Spending

Hide Your Brains! Matthews from the Left! Gingrich from the Right! Blowhard Attack! Or, more to the point...book reviews of "JFK Elusive Hero" and "Valley Forge"

Art Sampler - An RCJ Review of Art in the Modern Period

Benicia, California Case Study in Traffic Engineering and Growth Management

Everyday Heroism - The Penn State Debacle

How to Keep Things Lousy in the USA

How Being a Socialist Became a Negative

Are You A Slave? A Brief History of the Subject Suggests "Probably"

Moses, Wall Street, Human Nature and Grover Norquist

Concepts of Resistance - The RCJ Provides a Road Map for the OWS Movement

Lance Henriksen - World's Greatest Actor in Reflective Mode

Conspiracy - A Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the New World Order

Elections 2012

What Does it Take to be President?

Rating the U.S. News Readers

The Antidote to Michelle Bachman

Ship of Fools - Why Won't We Save Ourselves?

White House Solar Bomb

What Is Happening to Us?

The Cloud - What It Is

Background on Afghanistan

Economics 101

Global Economic Risks

Islamic Definition

Middle East

Second Amendment Remedies

Sam Broussard - Republicans


Why All the Zombies?

Gun Rights

Leadership Chronicles


Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page


CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel











I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.



If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves at NOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.




Bracing for the Big One

Heavy rains, floods, waterborne disease and infestations of insects... The National Resources Defense Council readies for rocky times ahead...





Inverted Skyscraper

Is Mexico City's 65-story Underground Model a Good Idea for City Planning?












America: Growing Stupid

Back in 1977, the Center for Environmental Structure at the University of California-Berkeley, published the second of a three-volume series on "environmental planning." It is a dandy of a textbook titled A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, and it was written by a committee of academic planners and architects consisting of "Architect and Mathematician" Christopher Alexander (pictured below on the cover of Residential Architect magazine) and all the other people listed there on the right.

Here is the way the book is described at Amazon.com: "...published... to provide a 'working alternative to our present ideas about architecture, building, and planning,' A Pattern Language offers a practical language for building and planning based on natural considerations. The reader is given an overview of some 250 patterns that are the units of this language, each consisting of a design problem, discussion, illustration, and solution. By understanding recurrent design problems in our environment, readers can identify extant patterns in their own design projects and use these patterns to create a language of their own..."

Here is Christopher Alexander himself, stating his point of view most eloquently in an interview that can be read in full at http://www.katarxis3.com/Alexander.htm :

"My interest is in buildings. And I'm a scientist insofar as I try to understand what's going on in buildings, in a reproducible, accurate fashion, and try to tell the truth about it. I'd say that the principal thing that has helped me to thread my way through this rather incredible briar patch is trying to tell the truth about what is really going on - when you're in a building, when you go into a building, when you come out of a building, when you use a building, when you look at a building, when you look out the window of the building, and so forth.

And I'd say that the biggest problem with 20th century architecture was that architects became involved in a huge lie. Essentially what happened at the beginning of the 20th century was really a legacy of the 19th. New forms of production began to be visible. And in some fashion artists and architects were invited to become front men for this very serious economic and industrial transformation.

I don't think they knew what was happening. That is, I don't think in most cases there was anything cynical about this. But they were actually in effect bought out. So that the heroes of, let's say, the first half of the 20th century - Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe, Gropius even - a very nice man, by the way - were brought on board in effect to say, OK, here's all this stuff happening, what can you do with it? Let's prove that it's really a wonderful world we're going towards. And instead of reflecting on questions about, well, what was it that was going to be wonderful about this world - from the very beginning, the architects became visual spokesmen, in a way to try to prove that everything was really OK. Not only that it was really OK, but somehow magic.

You know, there was this phrase, elan vital, which was bandied about a lot in the middle years of the century, and in the early years of the century as well - of, there's something incredible happening here, we're part of it, we're reaching forward. But all of this was really image factory stuff. And what they didn't know about the late 20th century was only known to a few visionaries like Orwell and others who could actually see really what was going on.

I don't think this is a very flattering view, and I suppose architects would reject it, angrily. But I do think it's true."


Thirty-one years have passed since Alexander and his crew published that landmark book, and in the interview referenced above one can hardly sense frustration in the great thinker regarding how little it has all mattered.

The Center for Environmental Structure has branched out to have chapters throughout the world, and Alexander has gone on to write other books (e.g., Notes on the Synthesis of Form, A City is Not A Tree, and The Nature of Order) and become a "star" in his rarified field of academia. In fact, Alexander's centers have had what impact they have had in the nether reaches of the developing world, where things are built from scratch and can most easily be matched up with Alexander's concepts in planned development. Central to that concept is the idea of many small independently operating central communities in which people live, work and relate. Those are all primitive designs to begin with, culled from a retrospective view on English villages of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. They are naturals for third world development and it is heartening to imagine "invisible worlds" out there on the global landscape being developed in ways that sustain resources and develop greater and more advanced senses of local connectedness.

Do you see the irony here? Alexander's focus with A Pattern Language was to create a framework for mounting arguments against a tidal wave of corporate intellectualism in which the focus was on differentiating power, size, elitism, exclusivity and, most of all, conspicuous consumption. The academics never had a chance against sex that charged.

I suppose you could say that, maybe viewed from space, America has developed along Alexander's blueprint for urban growth but at a scale that turns the advantages of regional connectedness on its ear. They say "all politics is local" and that's because all economics is local, too.

Development in the United States has been of a horizontal nature, with cities spreading to suburbs connecting to other suburbs and to other cities, because there has been available land that could be had for less than would be required to build vertically within established centers, not that his would have been a great idea either.

Developments - residential and commercial - are intensely political things involving the approvals of governmental and quasi-governmental entities, and the machinations of antagonistic competitors, interest groups, and activist protesters. This ratio of developers to stakeholders magnifies dramatically in the most mature markets, like the San Francisco Bay Area, so usually it has been easier for deal makers to build their developments along highway corridors that connect their "projects" to important commercial centers, in the process gaining more attractive terms from county agencies eager to boost the economies of their outlying regions.

It has all made a logical sort of sense, as long as "we" had two critical resources in enviable quantities: time and money. Time to cover long commutes that add 5 to 15 hours to the five-day work week, and money to cover the costs of driving, parking and maintaining your car.

Other than for the obscenely wealthy, neither time nor money are renewable in any guaranteed way. There, in fact, is the rub: the desire to "develop" one's way into the obscenely wealthy class, thereby elevating into a reality in which comfort renders common concerns more or less trivial, drives ambition. This is the real engine behind America's obsession with "growth," the holiest grail among those comprising the American Dream.

Developers and planners in the United States, especially over the past 60 years, haven't been thinking much beyond the short term impacts of a limited range of considerations, mostly focusing on the benefits of increased revenues, public and otherwise. What they haven't focused on are the things that Alexander and his cohorts have been emphasizing, which is environmental sustainability in all of its parts, including the quality of human life. - RAR

Poverty In the Suburbs - Nowhere to Run!

In 2008, a joint study of the Federal Reserve's Community Affairs department and the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program revealed that the poverty profile in the U.S. has spread from concentrations in rural and inner-city areas to include the nation's suburbs.

The report on the study was released at the close of "Black Friday's" news day - "Black Friday" being the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping day, the busiest single shopping day of the year, when the nation's retailers take in 40 per cent of their year's income and hope to move their accounts into "black" ink.

The study was prepared for a special meeting of the Fed to discuss the issue of "concentrated poverty."


Traffic Study on Benicia, CA

Driving, Even Walking, Can Get You Killed

The home town of the RARWRITER Publishing Group offers some traffic engineering head scratchers that seem to get people killed and injured at higher than average rates for smaller California cities. As this brief video overview demonstrates, it is as if traffic planners couldn't keep up with the growth the city experienced since the 1970s, turning a historic little town along the Carquinez Strait into a bustling bedroom community, with commuter traffic dependencies. Somehow city government didn't keep up.








From RARWRITER.com, Posted  April 26, 2010

©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), September, 2019

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