Ideas. Cities. Social Innovation.

America is experiencing what U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood calls a “streetcar revival.” Streetcars, also called trolleys or trams, were a common sight in U.S. cities at the beginning of the 20th century. But by the 1960s, they had all but been forgotten, mostly replaced with buses. In 2001, Portland, Ore., revived them by opening a downtown line with brand-new cars. According to BEC transportation sales director Joel McNeil, some 40 cities in the U.S. and Canada are currently exploring or planning new systems. The American Public Transportation Association actually puts that number at more than 80.

The finger-pointing game is a fun one to play, but it’s a little like drugs – you have to keep taking bigger and bigger doses in order to get the same high.

No Home to Call Their Own: A Documentary of Homelessness in America.

This 8 minute feature on Father Bill’s & Mainspring of Brockton, Mass, and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness earned an honorable mention nod in C-Span’s 2011 StudentCam contest.

No, the most striking claim is that the rest of America should care, and in particular that the shrinking middle class, the typical families whose incomes have been steadily declining since 1999, should care.

Typical families typically didn’t care about equality of outcomes because they believed in equality of opportunities, that over the years and across generations there would be a vigorous trading of places as new talents and energies express themselves and are rewarded in the marketplace.

The Economic Report of the President, released on Friday, highlights that there is less of this sort of mobility across the generations than many Americans think.

Mr Lin has quickly amassed a huge following among Chinese basketball fans (and this country does love basketball). This poses a bit of a conundrum for Chinese authorities for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that Mr Lin is an American who is proudly of Taiwanese descent, which would seem to complicate China’s efforts to claim him (and oh how they have tried already—on which, more below).

But there are three other reasons Mr Lin’s stardom could fluster the authorities. First, he is very openly Christian, and the Communist Party is deeply wary of the deeply religious (notably on those within its own ranks). Second, he is not a big centre or forward, the varietals which are the chief mainland Chinese export to the NBA, including the Mavericks’ Mr Yi; and of course he came out of nowhere to become a star, having been educated at the most prestigious university in America, Harvard.

As a 9-year-old son of immigrants, I was claiming Reggie and, through him, this country. Every time I imitated his explosive swing, every time I adjusted my glasses like he did, with a thrust of the chin, a touch of swagger, I imagined that my family had been American as long as the Yankees had. Such an act of imagining, in its own little way, is what any of us means when we call ourselves “American.”

Infrastructure investment only makes sense when there is a clear problem that needs solving and when benefits exceed costs. U.S. transportation does have problems — traffic delays in airports and on city streets, decaying older structures, excessive dependence on imported oil — but none of these challenges requires the heroics of a 21st century Erie Canal. Instead, they need smart, incremental changes that will demonstrate more wisdom than brute strength.

I’d say the U.S. needs enhanced passenger rail, and in many cases, intra-city rapid transit. But Glaesar puts forth several strong points.

Powerful photos, and words from the Boss. He wrote the foreward to the new book Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression:

“People who all their lives had played by the rules, done the right thing, and had come up empty, men and women whose work and sacrifice had built this country, who’d given their sons to its wars and then whose lives were marginalized or discarded.”

Yet Eastwood seems to have arrived at a similar place as Springsteen. Eastwood’s Super Bowl ad for Chrysler sounded like a script from The West Wing—or even (God forbid) an ad for Barack Obama. Ramrod straight, Eastwood strides through the half-light and defiantly snarls that the dimness is a new dawn, not dusk. “People are out of work and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re gonna do to make a comeback … The people of Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together. Now the Motor City is fighting again.”

Of all the housing markets shown, only Pittsburgh, Little Rock and Oklahoma City (indicated on the Fed chart as Oklahoma) had a higher cost per square foot in 2011 than in 2006. In Raleigh, N.C., prices were about flat.

Huge drop, of course, in California and the Sun Belt. Is America’s future on the coasts (Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf), and in the midwest legacy cities?