The kids got out of school last week, which means that our summer travel season has arrived. We just got back from a long driving trip to Iowa for a family wedding. Some spectacular early June storms lit up the central Iowa sky while we were there, and some altogether familiar discussion took up part of the Iowa paper.

"The" Iowa paper is, of course, the Des Moines Register (a shell of its former self, but still the only paper of note in the entire state). Not quite three weeks ago, a columnist wrote up the story of a native Iowan who had left to make a career in retail in New York City, then returned to spice up her hometown with some big city 'tude. The results? Des Moines, charming though it is, is too "provincial" to support her shop. She's sticking around, but she's closing the store.

The reaction, which I caught while we were in town, was a group of letters to the paper defending Des Moines and its so-called "provincialism" and basically telling Rhonda (the prodigal Iowan) "good riddance."

To cap it off, there was another letter in the paper explaining that Des Moines will never get anywhere culturally or economically until Polk County jettisons its antiquated political system. So many little towns! So much neighborhood pride! So little gets done. So little changes.

Sound familiar?


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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