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November 14, 2013

that was sudden

So I posted that quick thought yesterday and dashed off to the Supreme Court of Kings County, thinking that day two of jury duty would be the final day of jury duty and today would be back to normal.  And by 11am I'm the 20th person of a prospective jury pool, with seven jurors already picked.  I'm skating, right?  Not the case.

By the afternoon, I'm hearing opening arguments.

It's a fascinating case, and a fascinating process.  I guess there's a lot of it I can't really talk about until it's all over, but one thing I do know is that my media diet will be drastically curtailed.

We're scheduled to go at least for a week, so in the intervening please forgive me if this turns into a jury blog.

One thing I'm pretty sure I can share: the view from the 19th floor of the Supreme Court building is tremendous.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:47 AM

November 13, 2013


It is not so easy to find the time to post here during jury duty.

But, on the bright side, I'm on jury duty.  Heh.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:30 AM

November 10, 2013

the other way that walmart destroys cities

This one got lost during my initial week of serving as a juror for the State of New York.

It's sort of rote that Walmart does not have a net positive effect on the communities it invades.  No matter how much a grateful citizenry likes paying forty cents less for a pack of toilet paper, it puts the mom-and-pops out of business, and turns the small towns into derelict, unvisited ghost towns, so what used to be Mayberry (or some other icon of how towns used to be) turns into some dystopic oxycontin nightmare.

But as Charles Montgomery points out in Salon, that is not the only way that Walmart is bad:

Minicozzi has since found the same spatial conditions in cities all over the United States. Even low-rise, mixed-use buildings of two or three stories--the kind you see on an old-style, small-town main street--bring in ten times the revenue per acre as that of an average big-box development. What's stunning is that, thanks to the relationship between energy and distance, large-footprint sprawl development patterns can actually cost cities more to service than they give back in taxes. The result? Growth that produces deficits that simply cannot be overcome with new growth revenue.

Montgomery focuses on the story of Asheville, NC, a city that has focused on the redevelopment of the downtown areas.  It's a fascinating read, and a strike against Walmart that for once does not revolve around its insanely greedy business and labor practices.  In the sense that Walmart uses acres and acres of land, removed from already developed areas, the costs of expanding infrastructure and the revenue for the municipality per square foot just don't compare with other kinds of development.

In other words, Walmart isn't just a bad actor, it is intrinsically bad.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:18 PM