Month: August 2017

Jumping the Ship: The Revenge of the Shallow State

Do Stephen Bannon and the CEOs who abandoned the sinking ship of Trump have something in common, aside from the timing of their well-publicized exits? I think so—notwithstanding Bannon’s anti-corporate (thus genuinely populist) rhetoric, the secret ingredient in Trump’s recipe for political success. Read David Gelles today on “The Moral Voice of Corporate America,” and you might begin to think so, too. In view of the diversity of their constituents—their shareholders, customers, and local politicians of different parties—the author wonders how CEOs found their progressive voice, especially since 2015, when they took on the Indiana state legislature’s ban on same sex or transgender public restrooms. He also wonders why. I got some answers for him, and some follow-up questions as well. To begin with, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision (558 U.S. 1 [2010]) revoked a major premise of all precedent on corporate personhood and freedom of speech—which was precisely that any corporation’s shareholders were wildly diverse in their political opinions, and so could not be adequately represented in the unitary, anodyne voice of its board or its CEO. Corporate politics can now be more easily personified and articulated because, after Citizens United, CEOs aren’t constrained by legally mandated attention to the variegated political concerns of their shareholders. Accordingly, the “social responsibility” of corporations comes to mean bottom-line attention to a broader constituency—the consumers of their products—and this new...

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At Home: Santa Clara 1728

[Originally published in Azure Magazine, June 2017] Nestled within a labyrinth of narrow streets, small squares and gracefully aged buildings in one of Lisbon’s most traditional neighbourhoods, Santa Clara 1728 is an 18th century urban palace that has been exquisitely rehabilitated into a small hotel with six luxurious suites by architect Manuel Aires Mateus. Owner João Rodrigues, an airline pilot whose family lives on the building’s top floor, is an art and design aficionado who, through a series of architectural projects undertaken with Aires Mateus, has been pursuing qualities of atmosphere and sensuousness in architecture. Their first experiment, Casas na Areia (Houses in the Sand), is an ensemble of small cabins in which the sand of the beach they are situated in extends indoors. Cabanas no Rio (Cabins on the River), is a pair of wooden fishers’ huts on a river jetty that explore themes of enclosure and exposure within a vast landscape, while Casa no Tempo (House in Time) is a former ramshackle farmhouse in a cork grove that seeks “the essence of home” through a distillation of its architecture. Following this line of inquiry, Santa Clara 1728, the largest and most urbane of these projects, “experiments with new ways of living and experiencing space”, as Rodrigues puts it. All of the projects follow three basic principles: the maximum use of locally sourced, high-quality natural materials, the employment...

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