The Maryland flag: anything but a flop.

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Sure, each one of our nation’s fifty states gets two senators to represent its constituents federally through the legislature, and each state claims an individual vote on amendments to the Constitution. But on matters of the House of Representatives, votes for the Electoral College, budget allocations and just about every other consideration, not all states …Read more…

Who’s YOUR state’s prime mascot?

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When a highly localized slang term pops up in an environment far removed from its natural home, it’s inevitable that it will cause some heads to turn. And that’s exactly what happened when I passed this sign along a fairly busy stretch of highway:People who follow college basketball—and particularly those who followed it in the …Read more…

Rental respites for refugees.

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Imagine a major city where owner-occupied, single-family housing dominates the landscape, more than anywhere else in the country. Complete with garages, chimneys, front yards, back yards, one-and-a-half baths (minimum), and more than a few basements. Virtually all the houses sit on lots of equal size, with nearly identical space between them and the exact same …Read more…

Economizing and downsizing a city’s landmarks.

When navigating through an unfamiliar place, either urban or rural, we tend to seek visual points of reference to aid us in further wayfinding.  It is as instinctual of an action as folding the corner of a book.  Across the countryside, visual cues assume a variety of incarnations: a distinctive geological form, an unusual sign, …Read more…

DUST: What does the flag capture?

My suspicion is that I have less to say on this subject than I’d like to think, but I’m still feeling my way around in terms of the appropriateness of featuring certain material on this blog, so in the meantime it is best that I linger on the fluffier subjects. And I can’t help but …Read more…

DUST: Never mind the bollards.

No translation necessary.

Readers and friends have been nagging me for another, more detailed article on Afghanistan. I wanted to get a blog post out before the end of the month, and tomorrow I leave for an indefinite amount of time to explore yet two more bases (my fourth and fifth since I’ve been here in the Afghan …Read more…

Civil unrest along the highway.

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It is easy to attribute The Great Recession to the increasingly visible decision among many states to cut long-standing social services. In a good portion of the country, publicly supported interstate rest areas have lost much of their reason for being; with so many other options at the exit ramps along our many limited-access highways, …Read more…