The resident faculty left a report card outside the mail room this morning. Had it come from a school, our nation would be grounded. (More)

First our thanks to last week’s writers, who brought us one of BPI’s busiest weeks.

Last Monday, winterbanyan discussed Medical Terror in Furthermore!, addisnana shared the story of a National Guardsman On His 4th Tour in Midday Matinee, and Lake Toba began his series with Water Security – A Human Right in Evening Focus. Last Tuesday, JanF took on Tea Party governance in Untracked, Unhinged … and Unrepentant in HEMMED In, winterbanyan discussed aging in I’ve Finally Arrived in Midday Matinee, and rb137 challenged conservative myths in Let’s Talk Torture in Evening Focus. Last Wednesday, addisnana brought us a Fracking Update in Morning Feature and discussed Woodpeckers and Homelessness in Midday Matinee, and rb137 shared the inspiring music of Maisha Soul in Evening Focus. Last Thursday, JanF updated our Campus Tour in HEMMED In, winterbanyan shared The Really Important Things in Midday Matinee, and citisven asked us to Imagine There’s No Cars in the Streets in Our Earth. Last Friday, the BPI Squirrel went hoarse with Slavery, huh? in Furthermore!, glendaw271 showed How a Small Church Gives Me Hope in Midday Matinee, JanF offered our Week in Review in Evening Focus, and citisven brought us San Francisco’s Ride Your Bike to Work program in Our Earth. Last Saturday, JanF brought us Saturday Videos in HEMMED In, and critters that Speek Hoomin to translate Republicanese in Evening Focus. And yesterday, the BPI Squirrel mused on Poetic License in Furthermore!, winterbanyan shared her Mob Connections in Midday Matinee, and JanF brought us an Eco News Roundup in Our Earth. All are worth reading if you missed them.

Our writers will be busy this week as well. In Morning Feature, addisnana has a two-part series on Change by Design tomorrow and Wednesday. In Midday Matinee, addisnana discusses Gullibility today, winterbanyan shares her experience of Lightning Strikes on Tuesday, and addisnana will return Wednesday with a surprise topic. In Evening Focus, Lake Toba brings us Part 2 of his Water Security series on Monday, DWG discusses Corporate Giveaways on Tuesday, JanF has a two-part series on Republican Branding on Wednesday and Thursday, and her Week in Review and Critter Commentary on Friday and Saturday. As always, Chef will serve coffee and bagels, and the Professor of Astrology Janitor will volley cleaners and buffers.

Please join our Authors! We have Morning Feature openings next Tuesday and Wednesday (May 24th and 25th), and Evening Focus openings next Tuesday through Thursday (May 24th – 26th). We also have openings this week for our campus soapbox Furthermore!, our afternoon people-watching series Midday Matinee, and our evening environmental series Our Earth. Share your insights with the BPI community!

If you are already a BPI Author, you will find a complete list of category openings in the Authors Notepad in your Dorm Room. To reserve a slot, type in your user name, topic, and date, and click “Save Notes.” I will remove your note when I add you to our Schedule.

If you are not yet a BPI Author and would like to contribute at BPI, please contact the BPI Webmistress.

Also: Please share your stories of offline activism in Things We Did This Week.

That leaves the report card the resident faculty left outside the mail room, as they made their way from the wine cellar library where they spent the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”) to the hot tub faculty lounge for their weekly game where the underwear goes flying planning conference. The report card wasn’t pretty.

In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded America’s infrastructure, civic resources and services on which we all rely. The ASCE rated 15 categories, from aviation to wastewater. Our overall grade was a D. Our highest grade was a C+. The estimated five-year cost to bring our overall grade to a C: $2.2 trillion dollars.

The History Channel is now running a series titled Inspector: America, starring 30-year veteran bridge and railway inspector Timothy Galarnyk. Galarnyk travels to cities across the U.S. to study their roads, bridges, mass transit, water, sanitation, and power systems. If you haven’t watched it, please do. It is some of the most progressive programming you’ll ever see on television. Some of it will make you angry. And some will make you tear up with pride for the workers who toil every day to maintain and improve the very foundations of modern life.

If the ASCE report card had come from a school, our nation would be grounded. It didn’t come from a school, but we soon may be grounded anyway. Some of us already are. With too many city, state, and federal leaders unwilling to raise revenue to pay for basic maintenance, our roads and bridges, water and sewer pipes, dams and levees, seawalls and sidewalks are – literally – crumbling away.

Infrastructure highlights a core distinction between progressive and conservative thought. Conservatives favor privatizing basic civic resources and services, albeit with a heaping helping of taxpayer subsidies. Progressives recognize the need for the commons, and think those who benefit most from our once exceptional infrastructure – the wealthy and large corporations – must pay the most to maintain and improve it.

But this week won’t be about ideology. It will be about potholed roads, cracking bridges, rusting pipes, flooding drainways, leaking dams, and rotting seawalls. It will be about Realworldia, where gavels and hot air give way to gloves and hard hats, where successes too often go unnoticed but failures can be deadly.

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Happy Monday!