The location of the actual “Tally’s Corner” is revealed

Tally’s Corner is a classic ethnographic work:

It’s a remarkable book, an academic work – it grew out of Liebow’s doctoral thesis – that isn’t dry or boring. It’s an in-depth look at a group of men who routinely hung out on a Washington street corner in the early 1960s. These are poor men, flawed men, unemployed and underemployed men. But they are treated with respect. And although Liebow used pseudonyms, giving the men such names as Tally, Sea Cat, Richard and Leroy, they come across as flesh-and-blood individuals. When “Tally’s Corner” was published in 1967, the New York Times called it “a valuable and even surprising triumph.” The late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) called it “nothing short of brilliant.”…

“Tally’s Corner” remains in print, has been translated into multiple languages, and has sold more than a million copies, an amazing feat for an anthropological text.

But there has been some confusion over the years about where exactly Elliott Liebow interacted with the men who were the focus of his study:

According to many sources, it was Ninth and P streets NW. Except Answer Man happens to know it wasn’t…

Liebow picked a location that would be easy to get to from his office and his home in Brookland: 11th and M streets NW in Shaw, a corner that had a carryout, liquor store, dry cleaner and shoe-repair shop. This is the first time the exact location has been revealed. “I feel free to say that because it’s no longer that street corner,” Harriet told Answer Man. “The carryout’s gone. That whole world is gone from that street corner.

It is often the case that ethnographic works conceal the location of the study as well as the identity of the participants. And it sounds like the location was only revealed now because the area has changed so much that no individuals or businesses could be identified at that corner.

I’ve had discussions with people about the exact location of ethnographic works, as if the location was some mystery that needed to be solved. The authors sometimes do a better job to conceal the location that others – it can often take quite a consistent effort. I feel like I have read some studies that try to use vague terms like “a liberal-arts college in the Midwest” but then later give enough clues (unintentionally?) for the reader to figure it out.

The long process of foreclosure: an average of 492 days

Even though Black Friday sales may have been decent, housing is still lagging. Another indicator: “the number of days since the average borrower in foreclosure last made a mortgage payment” is 492 days. The Wall Street Journal adds more about this figure:

In recent months, the number of borrowers entering severe delinquency — meaning they missed their third monthly mortgage payment — has been on the decline, falling to about 700,000 in October, according to mortgage-data provider LPS Applied Analytics. But it’s still more than double the number of foreclosure processes started.

As a result, banks are taking progressively longer to foreclose. The average borrower in the foreclosure process hadn’t made a payment in 492 days as of the end of October, according to LPS. That compares to 382 days a year ago and a low of 244 days in August 2007…

Speeding up the process won’t be easy, as demonstrated by the banks’ continuing legal troubles related to robo-signers, bank employees who signed foreclosure affidavits without properly checking the required loan documentation.

Millions of Americans still are paying their mortgages even though they owe more than their homes are worth. The more banks’ backlog grows, the more likely they are to join it, adding to the already giant pile of foreclosures weighing on the housing market.

In my mind, one of the issues is that we don’t really know the true state of the housing market until all of these foreclosures go through. And if the average length is more than a year, it is going to take a long time to get all of these through the system, let alone deal with new foreclosures.

I wonder if the length of foreclosure differs by location. In areas that were hard hit by foreclosures, like Las Vegas or parts of California, are the banks ahead or behind in regard to these 492 days? Are there areas of the country where it is in the banks’ interest to slow down the foreclosure process because they can’t really do anything with the houses anyway?

h/t Instapundit

What cities are the most conducive to scientific research?

A new study in Nature examines which cities are the best for scientific research. The article cites some different measures to get at things like output and quality. Here are some of the findings:

-The top cities for number of articles produced: “Tokyo, London, Beijing, the San Francisco Bay Area, Paris and New York.”

-The top cities based on quality of research (measured as average citations of articles): “Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, come out on top — attracting more than twice as many citations per paper as the global average. US cities dominate the quality table, with only Cambridge, UK, breaking into the top 10. Cities with the most improved relative quality in the past decade include Austin, Texas, and Singapore City — which has moved from 15% below average to 22% above it. Beijing, however, is below par in the quality stakes: its papers in the five-year period ending 2008 attracted 63% of the global average-citation rate.”

-According to a sociologist, the three factors that lead to more research: “freedom, funding, and lifestyle.”

Several of the experts also caution that cities shouldn’t just throw money at research in the expectation that this will lead to significant wealth generated for the city.

I wonder how much of a role historical factors play in this. Once a city acquires a reputation for prestigious universities and research (think: Boston), how quickly could it lose its status if drastic things started to take place (such as the bankruptcy of Harvard and MIT)? It seems like certain cities gain a reputation or character and that character becomes an inertia that continues to attract new research facilities and scientists.