Wandering Eye: Under Armour picks architect for Port Covington, 'The New Unemployables,' and more

Governing magazine is not necessarily known for unblinking fealty to reality, or as a bulwark against the camouflaging euphemism. But in "The New Unemployables," one columnist takes the magazine into a new kind of dog-whistle territory, looking at the paradox of increasing long-term disability while employers cry for more qualified workers. "This puzzling disconnect—workers can't find jobs while jobs can't be filled—has been attributed to many factors, such as mismatches between skills or geography. But while those may account for part of the problem, the issue is more fundamental—one of baseline unemployability." The story posits that what used to be "inner city" problems are now all over the countryside—particularly the drug trade. Author Aaron Renn only tiptoes up to the issue of race, but the blaring subtext of the column is that White People Are Turning Into Them. He says his father, a quarry manager, can't get good help anymore. "This had nothing to do with job availability or wages and everything to do with the basics, such as having a high school diploma and reliably coming to work every day. This goes beyond hard and soft skills to baseline employability." Look for that term—"baseline employability"—in a Republican campaign near you. Renn does not quite define it; it's the sort of thing an employer knows when he sees. As Renn is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, the phrase is also a cudgel to attack whatever passes for economic development policy: "traditional workforce or economic development remedies will not help" this new class of not-workers, Renn warns. "Addressing this matter will not be easy, because the issues are so politically charged and require confronting unpleasant truths about legal and social changes that virtually no one wants to roll back, but which have had profoundly negative effects on the working class. At a minimum, the emergence of inner-city-type conditions in white working-class areas might perhaps convince some whites that something other than race produces these results." Hmmm. Remember, "The core of 'Governing's' readership consists of elected, appointed and career officials in state and local government." (Edward Ericson Jr.)


Celebrated feminists/writers Roxane Gay and Erica Jong delivered the keynote address at the Decatur Book Festival last week, and it was, apparently, "an evening that, while meant to celebrate feminism, ended up illustrating its generational, cultural and racial divides," according to a recap in The Guardian. It started when Gay playfully reminded the audience that it was Beyonce's birthday, but Jong felt the need to to remind Gay and the audience that Beyonce came after a long line of "the great blues women" Billie Holiday and Ida Cox. When a question about intersectionality came up, Jong seemed to not be aware of the multifaceted struggles women of color face or even of the concept of intersectionality, citing blues singers and black abolitionists who had been "passionately involved in feminism." A similar awkward moment happened earlier this year at Gloria Steinem's talk at Hopkins, when she "seemed unaware of the present divide between white feminists and feminists of color that is frequently discussed on social media," as CP's Maura Callahan noted. Of course, this disconnect is not exclusively between older feminists and younger feminists (Miley, what's good?). And yeah, as feminists we're all in this together, but that means those of us with white privilege have to do a better job of earnestly listening to feminists of color and recognizing that it's not just "the patriarchy" that's the problem, but white supremacy too. (Rebekah Kirkman)


Hey, ever seen that Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York that is a giant class cube? The architectural firm behind that building—as well as the offices of Adobe and Pixar—has been tapped to design Under Armour's new campus in Port Covington, The Sun reports. The firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, "became famous in the 1990s when it partnered on the design of Gates' house—nicknamed Xanadu after the estate in "Citizen Kane"—which combined a modest Pacific Northwest aesthetic with wow features like a trampoline room, personal climate controls, and music piped into the swimming pool." It's already done some work here in Baltimore, designing the Sellinger School of Business at Loyola University Maryland and the School of Dentistry at the University of Maryland. As for a grand vision for the 200 acres Under Armour founder Kevin Plank has bought up, that will have to wait. (Brandon Weigel)

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