Revitalizing Research Triangle Park

Interesting piece on Research Triangle Park– a key engine of the economic growth and educated populace of central NC.  Personally, I’ve always hated the idea of working in an office park.  Turns out, tech workers increasingly feel the same way:

 The current generation of tech workers doesn’t want to toil in the soulless Office Space complexes surrounded by moats of parking that dot Research Triangle Park’s sprawling vastness. According to a source with knowledge of the redevelopment process, attendance rates at the Park’s companies had declined significantly in recent years, as more and more employees decided to telecommute and skip coming into the office at all. “We want to make sure that we position that park so that it is on the minds of our most creative young people,” says Bob Geolas, who started in 2011 as president of the non-profit foundation that runs the park. “There is a recognition that young tech workers don’t want to work at mom and dad’s research park…they want a different kind of work-life experience.”

What kind of experience is that? One where you can walk or bike to the office, get a great cup of coffee during the day and a decent beer after work, hang out in a park across from your house and shop nearby. The kind of environment that’s attracting startups to New York City, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. (and pushing real estate values up at the same time). “Whether you feel comfortable or agree with that approach to life, it’s how they make decisions today,” Geolas says.

Hopefully, efforts at improvement will be successful, as RTP has proven hugely beneficial for NC.

Best explanation yet for why Obama lost so badly

Of all the stuff I’ve read, listening to this Fresh Air interview with linguist extraordinaire Geoff Nunberg, seemed to offer the most compelling explanation I’ve come across for just what happened:

In fact, from the first Kennedy-Nixon debate up through the debates in recent elections, the candidates have rarely addressed each other more than a couple of times in all. The overwhelming number of remarks are addressed to the moderator or panelists, with occasional shout-outs to the audience at home.

The real outlier in this last debate was Romney. He addressed the president directly 37 times, either as Mr. President or just as “you” — almost twice as often as he referred to the president in the third person. That was dramatically different from Obama, who referred to Romney in the third person fifty times and addressed him directly only six. It was as if Romney had shown up armed for a cable news face-off, while the president was prepared for an episode of Meet the Press. That’s presumably why Obama spoke to the moderator Jim Lehrer with the slightly hesitant style he uses when he wants to convey thoughtfulness to an interviewer, drawing out words like “and” and “but” and pausing briefly between word groups, as if he were carefully composing each sentence on the spot. Whereas apart from a few strategically placed false starts, Romney didn’t really try to dispel the impression that he was offering a prepared pitch.

Now, Obama may very well have been just off his game. But the strategy of avoiding direct confrontation was clearly decided in advance. And it probably wouldn’t have turned out so disastrously for Obama if Romney hadn’t been hammering on him with all those second-person pronouns that he wasn’t responding to. All of a sudden the style that must have seemed deliberative in rehearsal came off as evasive, timid and peckish.

Now, Nunberg could be wrong, but that seems damn insightful to me.  It was the fact that Romney was directing fire right at Obama and Obama simply was not doing the same in return.  I love that this insight is from a linguist rather than one of the talking heads.

On a quasi-related note, Nate Silver’s Now-cast has Obama with only a 56% chance of winning.  It was 98% just a couple weeks ago.  Truly stunning.

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