Re: Happy Earth Day

1

When New Yorkers discuss this, is there an element of gloating?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:02 AM
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I suppose this sort of thinking is becoming mainstream, or at least more mainstream than it has been.

Well, good.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:10 AM
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You think this line of thinking is becoming mainstream just because you ran into another couple who shared your thoughts, or was there something about the other couple that characterized them as "mainstream" (and, by corollary, characterized their thinking as "mainstream"?)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:22 AM
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1: yes, just like when New Yorkers discuss any other topic.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:23 AM
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Brock is already turning into a bitter Middle American. Gosh darn smartypants city slickers!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:26 AM
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I don't actually think the idea that the suburbs will come vastly untenable is particularly true. It will become much more difficult and expensive to subsidize the suburbs -- you'll need to funnel tons of money into alternative energy cars, you'll need to funnel tons of money into green building technologies that work best on single family homes, you'll need to really amp up the tax breaks and benefits to purchasing a single-family home -- but they're already heavily subsidized and one of the political parties has a huge vested interest in keeping them viable (and the other one basically goes along with that). It's a nice dream, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:27 AM
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Let all my personal preferences become the Natural Law!

Thus Spake Zarathustra.

It ain't gonna be what you expect, and you will not like it.

James Howard Kunstler. (made this one up)

My guess is that last barrel of oil will be used to burn down the last city.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:30 AM
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Hey, I pwned bob!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:35 AM
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6: I agree with this. Also, it seems to me that this whole scenario is discussed almost exclusively by people that are really happy about it.

On preview -- bob said it better.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:37 AM
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or was there something about the other couple that characterized them as "mainstream" (and, by corollary, characterized their thinking as "mainstream"?)

Meanwhile, one of them went home and put up a blog post about the conversation, saying "We had to bring it up, as usual. I suppose this sort of thinking hasn't yet become mainstream."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:38 AM
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7.last: ...by the light of which can be seen the last king being strangled with the entrails of the last priest?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:42 AM
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Isn't the idea of a tenable sustainable Manhattan, while American suburban life is collapsing, just precious?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:45 AM
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I really haven't worked very hard on refuting the urbanists, and mayve need to spend a lot of time over at the oildrum, but my gut instinct is that there are a lot of unexamined assumptions and overlooked problems, things taken for granted.

The highrise building (5+ stories) is very much a product of the oil age. The concrete to maintain the walls, pipes to carry water, the wires to carry power, and the ducts to carry heat contain materials that may not be available at reasonable prices. Yes, the Romans had apartments, but thewy also had collapse and horrible fires. Dense living has always been vulnerable to fires, earthquakes, plaques, social unrest.

Trees do need a lot of water, but are also good water sinks. But transporting wood a hundred miles to the city?

After the apocalypse, seems to me best bet is packed dirt in a wood frame, no more than two stories high.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:46 AM
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you'll need to funnel tons of money into alternative energy cars, you'll need to funnel tons of money into green building technologies that work best on single family homes, you'll need to really amp up the tax breaks and benefits to purchasing a single-family home

Given our existing transportation infrastructure and housing stock, (1) and (2) seem inevitable (and beneficial). (3) seems unnecessary and harmful, and I don't see any (non-political) reason we couldn't move in the other direction on (3) while pursuing (1) and (2) (and also simultaneously investing in new transportation infrastructure and housing stock that's designed to support denser living).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:46 AM
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fires, earthquakes, plaques, social unrest

Plaques, combined with toothpaste shortages, could result in a widespread dental health crisis.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:56 AM
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14: there isn't any non-political reason. On the other hand, there's no non-political reason that the suburbs came into existence, either.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:58 AM
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It would probably be very cost-effective for the government to give out plaques to everyone who weatherized their houses.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:08 AM
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Seems to me the 5 story apartment building may be a lower energy consumer, but just isn't gonna produce enough energy to be anything but dead weight.

On my 1/8 acre or whatever, with only Dallas levels of rainwater, trees are still a net nuisance. The verges are still filled with trimmings. Yes we do keep enough to heat our houses in our mild winters. That is free energy sent to landfills that LB won't match. Those trees save me ten+ degrees in summer.

My 1/8 acre could have solar panels, a little windmill, a produce garden.

LB's 1/8 acre rooftop garden will feed the 250 people in her building?

I can on for hours. Believe it or not, Walmart is more efficient than 100 little shops in the urban center. But the land for a Walmart in the urban center?

Maybe this is all wrong. But history can help a little, energy has always been an issue, and energy has usually meant land...a whole lot of trees to make charcoal, coke, and iron/steel. In the late 19th, 1/3 of all land was used to feed the horses that made the cities possible.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:09 AM
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19

Maybe this is all wrong.

True enough.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:12 AM
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What, really, are cities about?

They are castles.

They control the land and enslave the peasants to steal the labor that turns the land into swords.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:18 AM
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They control the land and enslave the peasants to steal the labor that turns the land into swords.

That's why it's called blades of grass.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:20 AM
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18: This is imagining a breakdown in the whole world economy, so that each group of people have to be self-sufficient. In that kind of circumstance, it does seem likely that people in dense urban centers would be somewhat worse off that those in the suburbs, while farmers would do fine.

The OP is imagining a world in which the world economy continues to exist, but due to extreme oil shortages, transportation becomes much more expensive.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:23 AM
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20 is deeply confused.

Good thing 21 clears it all up.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:24 AM
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The thing about gut instincts is that your gut is full of shit. Does anyone remember "gut checks"?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:28 AM
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21: I thought that was about blowjobs.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:28 AM
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transportation becomes much more expensive.

And with more expensive transpo, the cities are better off and more efficient because...?

When transpo became more expensive before, like say when an empire crumbled, as in Roman roads not being maintained, did everyone congregate in the big cities?

20 is what LB and Yggles are about.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:29 AM
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Hilarious how some people who will complain ceaselessly about Euro-centrism are utterly obsessed with Rome.

More fundamentally, did the Romans actually do much goods transportation on the famous roads as opposed to marching their troops along them? ISTR (but it's been a while since I read Martin van Creveld's Supplying War) they moved much more stuff by sea and river.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:36 AM
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It's true that this was an NYC couple, so I suppose couldn't possibly count as mainstream, but I still don't hear people bringing this stuff up offline much at all, and if I do, I'm way out on the "There are real problems here" end of things. Having someone else bring it up spontaneously was surprising, and that's starting out from a baseline of hanging out with people in Manhattan.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:37 AM
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Last one, and I'm outa here.

I could use the British enclosure history, but there are plenty of examples right now all over the world of self-sustaining peasant farmers being displaced by corporate agriculture, moving to the big cities where they become wage labor.

This is not more efficient, it just makes the surplus available to capital.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:38 AM
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20, 26: Those executives that build McMansions out in the country -- it turns out they are peasants!
Who knew!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:38 AM
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Rome didn't crumble because it stopped maintaining its roads.

Suburbs have to transport all their stuff from the country and the ports and the factories, just like dense cities. But end-loop distribution's more expensive than in a dense city.

20 reminds me of the inspired Ken MacLeod character Dilly Foyle, who was a National Feminist (a pun on the National Front, the British far-right group): she thought that patriarchy was an invention of the (city-dwelling) Jews, aimed at subjugating the free country folk by setting their men at odds with their women.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:38 AM
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32

20 is fantastic. Bob, please make 20 the beginning of your manifesto.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:40 AM
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And of course slow overland transport for goods is actually much more energy efficient than fast overland transport of people. But wait, you say, look at how the collapse of the British Empire caused the decline of London!

Oh well. It was a brief, exciting moment when bob and I were on the same page.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:40 AM
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27. IIRC, in the Roman empire, the price of a commodity doubled for every 20 miles it was carried overland. They used barges and ships. They didn't actually move perishable goods very far, ever. Julian the Apostate tried to make adjacent provinces ship food to Antioch to offset a famine. He was furious because they didn't. But it wasn't that they wouldn't, they couldn't, logistically, shift that much food overland.

That was then, this is now. The problems of the Roman Empire have nothing to teach us in this field.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:46 AM
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34:Those who refuse to learn from history...

Famous last words:"It's different this time!"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:50 AM
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Well, I do believe the whole peak oil -doomed suburbs scenario is an urban hipster wish-fullfillment dream.

bob has his own wish-fullfillment apocalyptic scenario as well.



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:52 AM
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Makes sense. Only an idiot ever tried to move anything very much over land before the railways came along. Look what happened before the Lines of Torres Vedras. That's short land routes versus long sea routes. Think about where the great classical cities were: on the Tiber, on the Rhone, on the Nile, on the Thames, on the Seine... water transport is always better. Alexander fought pretty much all his campaigns either next to the sea or next to a navigable river.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:53 AM
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38

I just got an e-mail about how Earth Day is Lenin's Birthday from someone in my office who is apparently a right-wing nut. I could probably find the exact text of it on dozens of Web sites if I looked, but that would tax my sanity. In brief, it's all about how environmentalism is doomsaying, a religion, communist, etc.

Has anyone seen this before? Apparently it began in 2004. I'd like to find a link to a good rebuttal to it. I've already started criticizing lines of it on my own. Either way I probably won't be able to send it out today, because I can't imagine doing so from my work e-mail. Just something for me to think about.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:55 AM
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39

Having someone else bring it up spontaneously was surprising

Precisely. My point in 3 was bascially that, as long as this is true, it's probably premature to say "this sort of thinking is becoming mainstream, or at least more mainstream than it has been".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:02 AM
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38: It's been a right wing trope for a long time that environmentalists are watermelons - green on the outside, red on the inside. The fact that this is actually true for some of the louder voices unfortunately undermines some smart environmental policies. If your solution to a perceived problem is "fuck anyone who doesn't want to live the way I think they should" you'll tend to lose support.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:03 AM
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41

True, one data point isn't a trend.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:03 AM
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42

From wikipedia:

April 22, 1970 was the 100th birthday of Vladimir Lenin. Time reported that some suspected the date was not a coincidence, but a clue that the event was "a Communist trick," and quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying, "Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them."[32] J. Edgar Hoover, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, may have found the Lenin connection intriguing; it was alleged the FBI conducted surveillance at the 1970 demonstrations.[39] The idea that the date was chosen to celebrate Lenin's centenary still persists in some quarters,[40][41] although Lenin was never noted as an environmentalist


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:03 AM
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43

41 to 39.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:04 AM
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44

Well, out here at least, there are distribution problems that get much more expensive over distance. Delivering water, collecting sewage and firefighting can't be distributed the way Bob's suggesting that meeting his energy needs can (with trees on his lot). I don't see how the exurbs can support themselves if energy gets more expensive. If it becomes a zero-sum game, I expect the cities to use their money and power to get what they need and refuse to subsidize the suburbs.

I don't even think it will require energy to become expensive. I read daily stories about suburbs that have no idea how they're going to pay to replace their wastewater treatment plant from the 60's, or upgrade to handle emerging contaminants. They're already raiding their general funds for money to subsidize water rates. They say they don't have the "rate base" to charge what they need to cover their new wells or new connection to a neighbor's system. That means they can't afford their water.

I'd have to see some huge political will to replace and sustain those systems for exurbs, and broke as we are, I'm not sensing it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:06 AM
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quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying, "Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them."

Surely this was parody??


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:07 AM
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The cite appears to be good. Unless someone hacked time.com, or successfully trolled Time Magazine back in 1970.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:09 AM
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47

The other way I'd say that is that I absolutely expect that new water systems that serve big cities will get built (and, in fact, L.A. is offering to pay for them). All the stuff that doesn't directly serve a big city? That's still floundering in small paper op-eds, and I don't see any movement on them. I have no fear those reservoirs are gonna get built.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:11 AM
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45: nope... if American children grow up in a toxin-laden wasteland, they'll be tough, wiry little bastards. Like the kids in Mad Max or Terminator. If they grow up in a clean, leafy environment, they'll get soft and be easy meat for the Red hordes. EXACTLY AS THE LEFTISTS PLANNED ALL ALONG.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:11 AM
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49

45, 46: Maybe "them" is intended to refer to "subversive elements" not "American children."


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:12 AM
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45, 46, 48: It becomes reasonable, if poorly constructed, if you take the final 'them' as referring to 'subversive elements' rather than 'schoolchildren'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:14 AM
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51

Drat you, peep.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:14 AM
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f American children grow up in a toxin-laden wasteland, they'll be tough, wiry little bastards. Like the kids in Mad Max or Terminator.

... or Falkirk.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:16 AM
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52: quite. Where do the Paras recruit from? Glasgow schemes, Midland industrial cities and a few from the East End of London. Not many from the Home Counties.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:19 AM
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49/50: Even apart from the poor construction, I'm not sure how that interpretation makes any sense. What would it mean to "make American children live in an environment that is good for certain subversive elements"? I can imagine a lot of ways that sentence could make sense, but none of them have anything remotely to do with anything plausibly connected to cleaning up the natural environment, or with Earth Day generally. (Whereas reading "them" as referring to the children makes no moral/political sense, but is a perfectly logically comprehensible reaction to Earth Day.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:22 AM
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If the school system gets involved in pushing environmentalism as neutrally good, rather than as politically loaded, it preps children to grow up into subversives. It's nuts, but seems like a possible thought process.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:24 AM
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56

I'm pretty sure the Red Army prefers forest maneuvers, and wants to advance from tree-to-tree, rather than forming ranks like decent Americans.

Also, if the soft Americans depend on their rivers and farms, it hurts all the more when the Communists salt the earth and poison the waters.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:25 AM
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re: 53

In one of those telly documentaries about the anniversary of the Iranian embassy siege, one of the posh talking heads who'd met the SAS guys later to congratulate them on their success remarked one how surprised he'd been that they were all short ginger headed men, with moustaches.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:26 AM
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57: Paras all tend to be short. I'm not sure if it's because of where they come from, or that they start off tall but spend far too much time running around with 70lb rucksacks and become gradually compressed.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:27 AM
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55: huh, I guess. I'd really like to see the full context of that quote.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:28 AM
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So there are places on earth where transport is really expensive now, because working trucks and personal cars are expensive in terms of mean income, with road networks consequently sparse.

These places don't look anything like the millenarian fantasies beloved by the peak-oil folks, who are usually not curious about how people with limited means actually live now. Except to crow that Americans with bad taste will deservingly suffer later, just look at Somalia!

Smallish villages of single-family homes clustered around either cities or rivers are the norm. Oil won't disappear, it will just become more expensive. Cheap electricity will not disappear for 200 years, and that's neglecting the possibility of new technology. Villages don't look much like US exurbs; I think the thing that will vanish as transport costs go up is the ability to live in a hurry with lots of material choice in an isolated place. More motorcycles, fewer big cars, fewer spontaneous trips for fun and less retail therapy. Something between rural Ukraine or Turkey and northern Scandinavia, where lots of US luxuries are very expensive.

I also expect that some recently-built places will be abandoned-- Megan, do you only read about CA, or about other places also? Excluding uninhabitable deserts, which yes people will have to abandon, how bad are things? Spokane or SLC in the west, can these cities' sprawl zones afford their water? If Chicago or Minneapolis shrink, I think it will be through job loss, not because the rigors of the environment turn the people there into Okies.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:30 AM
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Note that the interpretation in 55 depends not only on reading "them" to refer (awkwardly) to "subversive elements" rather than "American children", it also requires reading "environment" to refer to the circumstances and conditions of our surroundings, rather than to the natural environment. Which would also be odd usage, in a comment about Earth Day. (That's why I didn't even think of this interpretation when I was writing comment 54.) I'm really not sure I'm buying this interpretation.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:33 AM
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re: 58

Yeah, although, ironically, one school friend's Dad had been a Scots Guard para, and he was built like [and looked like] Desperate Dan.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:35 AM
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Smallish villages of single-family homes clustered around either cities or rivers are the norm.

I don't know about the fantasies of peak oil folks generally, but this does sound like what I'd expect. Increased density, not necessarily in mega-cities.

I find myself assuming that wealthy suburbs are here for good -- what seems as if it might plausibly change is the economic calculus for a lower/middle income family looking for a place to raise a family. Space stops being a cheap luxury and becomes an expensive luxury.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:37 AM
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62: when he did P Company he was probably 17 feet tall.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:37 AM
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65

April 22, 1970 was the 100th birthday of Vladimir Lenin.

Gregorian or Julian?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:39 AM
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66

"Peak oil implies apocalypse" requires that nuclear power be kept tied up in its little box, which will simply not happen. Getting sufficient nuclear power plants on line in a short period of time will be a challenge, but it's a challenge on the order of building Hoover dam, not going to the moon.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:40 AM
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65: Gregorian.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:53 AM
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68

lw, I'm sorry, I really don't read about other places. It is so frustrating for me to pick up articles without knowing the whole context that I don't try. There was an article about Pickens in Texas yesterday, suing over the outcome of some groundwater plans, but since I didn't know what was in the plans (or how to find them) and who the people are, I couldn't understand it. Until I'm forced to expand, my interests are narrow and deep.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:55 AM
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Until I'm forced to expand, my interests are narrow and deep.

gentlemenzzz.....


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:59 AM
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"Peak oil implies apocalypse" requires that nuclear power be kept tied up in its little box, which will simply not happen.

Power isn't the only thing we get from oil. Batteries are still far from good enough for electric cars to seamlessly replace petrol driven ones. And what do we do about plastics and other products of oil distillation?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:59 AM
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I really don't read about other places

My kid makes fantasy metro maps for the third world, spends forever surfing African and south American cities on google maps.

Plastics use the cross-linked long chains useless for refining-- asphalt is not the only fate for these waste products. The thing to worry about aside from transport is the cost of fertilizer, but this mostly depends on natural gas, for which new technology (hydraulic fracturing) has multiplied available reserves in the US by at least a factor of 5.

Loving 80s hip-hop right now-- Stetsasonic, Young MC.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:10 AM
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70: Seamless replacement isn't needed, nor is it particularly desirable. Batteries will continue to improve, incentives will shift around, and people will adapt. There are plenty of alternative feedstocks for plastics, ranging from plants to coal to recycling to magical genetically engineered bacteria. Assuming that we need a drop in identical replacement for everything we get from oil does indeed lead to apocalyptic scenarios. If we just need approximately equivalent stuff the future looks pretty good.

Libertarians are fond of pointing to the nightmare scenarios of the late 1800s about NYC disappearing under piles of horse shit to mock environmentalists, but they do have a point. There is a fundamentally stasis-oriented world view underlying a lot of these scenarios, coupled with a clumsily interventionist approach to government regulation. Just shifting the incentives around a bit is often enough, and peak oil is doing that all on its own.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:17 AM
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Plastics use the cross-linked long chains useless for refining-- asphalt is not the only fate for these waste products

Well, sure, but you still need the oil in the first place.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:17 AM
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One of the things I've never understood about the anti-environmentalist/environmentalist-conspiracy people is, who do they think is benefiting from the evil effort to curtail their freedom? Big Compost? Big Granola? It just doesn't make sense.

One of the thigns I've never understood about the peak-oil/millenarian/survivalist crowd is, why on earth do they assume themselves to be among the survivors? At the very least, the scenarios they describe—and I'm not granting that these scenarios are likely to happen, just noting that this is the narrative—envision an almost immediate avalanche of food shortages, water shortages, and disease. That they're likely to be the ones to make it through, because, what, they had stocked up on some cans of beans or whatever? It's just not a cohesive narrative.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:19 AM
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68: you don't think that reading about other places could inform your understanding of California?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:20 AM
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The book of Ezekiel answers both questions in 74.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:21 AM
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That they're likely to be the ones to make it through, because, what, they had stocked up on some cans of beans or whatever? It's just not a cohesive narrative.

It's exactly the same mentality that makes libertarians of a certain stripe favour robber-baron capitalism, because they are somehow convinced they'd be among the robber barons.*

* and also that they got where they were today through sheer gumption, hard-working and being bad-ass, rather than from being one of the most pampered human beings on the planet.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:23 AM
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who do they think is benefiting from the evil effort to curtail their freedom? Big Compost? Big Granola? It just doesn't make sense

Who do people think is benefiting from social conservatives trying to curtail their freedom?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:23 AM
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I'm pretty sure that the rise of fuel cell cars
means that the automobile culture will be just fine. Sure, you have to replace gas stations, which will be expensive, but it's a lot cheaper than replacing all of our automobile infrastructure with something else. The Honda FCX Clarity already exists, has the range of a normal non-electric car, and runs just fine. Suburban life (like everything else) will get more expensive with the rise in oil prices, but NYC will get a lot more expensive with more expensive oil, too.

I haven't read the whole thread, so I'm probably repeating what someone else has said. And of course there are a lot of non-peak oil reasons to want to limit use of cars.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:28 AM
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Who do people think is benefiting from social conservatives trying to curtail their freedom?

They see themselves as doing God's will, is what I'd say.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:32 AM
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79: nd of course there are a lot of non-peak oil reasons to want to limit use of cars.

Another one rides the bus.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:32 AM
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It's just not a cohesive narrative.

Looking for coherence there, as in the Teabagger movement, can only lead to madness. But you're right, that thinking has a powerful grip on a lot of otherwise intelligent people—look at Michael Crichton's lunatic climate-change skepticism, for example, in which the world-controlling villains are basically the Sierra Club and ELF. If the Sierra Club is so fucking powerful, why do they keep begging me for money?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:33 AM
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That they're likely to be the ones to make it through, because, what, they had stocked up on some cans of beans or whatever? It's just not a cohesive narrative.

Well, exactly. I've always suspected that you'd have a great chance of just getting randomly killed before you made it to your cache of baked beans, bullets, etc. Fall under a mutineering armoured personnel carrier, get chibbed by a deranged human-resources manager for your smokes, whatever.

Power isn't the only thing we get from oil

But it's not far off. Consider this fine data visualisation from the EIA, which shows the sources and fate of every drop of oil extracted or consumed in the United States.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:38 AM
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I'm sending this comment from the bus, you bastards. Get me my car back!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:38 AM
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One of the things I've never understood about the anti-environmentalist/environmentalist-conspiracy people is, who do they think is benefiting from the evil effort to curtail their freedom? Big Compost? Big Granola? It just doesn't make sense.

Well, there's a huge overlap between this set and the evangelical christian set, and among that group, at least, it's mostly viewed as a conspiracy by Big Atheism. Because environmenal consciousness turns people into godless heathens, through some causal mechanism I've never quite understood, relating somehow to a failure to trust that God has adequately provided for all our physical needs, in perpetuity, and also to Gaia-worship.

That doesn't account for the entirety of the environmental-conspiracy movement, and I genuinely have no idea what's motivating the secular among them (unless they're connected to the relevant industries, and don't really believe a word of what they're saying, which is probably a small but influential number).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:44 AM
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75: Maybe. I'm a little doubtful because most other places don't come close to the complexity we have here. For example, we've had a lot of speakers from Australia come to give us lessons on drought. But whenever I quiz them, they haven't had to deal with the stuff we have.

I was talking to the guy who re-vamped their water rights system and set up a water market. I asked him how he picked the guiding criteria to structure the market. He said that he thought of it with his five other friends in his department, and then they sold it to the legislature.

Oh. Awesome. We'd have to go through an unbelievable public process, on the order of Blueprint planning or something.

I asked him if their new water laws violated a Constitutional takings clause, and he said no and he'd never heard of such a thing. Right. Well it'd be a lot easier for us to re-do water rights if we don't have to pay any losers in cash.

One guy came in to show us how their awesome state had consolidated all their districts under one agency and now it rocks. Their system isn't a hundred miles long and they only had to seize six districts. He asked us how many we had, and we told him, four thousand.

So, honestly, no. The only thing I get from all Australia's expertise is "it'd be a lot easier, if it were a lot easier." I suppose the other thing I learn is that cities in Australia have what we recognize as a first world lifestyle on a quarter of the water we use. Just knowing that example is there is very helpful.

Truthfully, I think we're more likely to get useful lessons from other extraction fields (like oil or gas) then we are from other locales. That interests me.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:47 AM
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I wrote an Earth Day poem in the 7th grade - we were supposed to do something creative that day - and it always sticks in my head around this time of year. It doesn't reflect well on my 7th grade character.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:47 AM
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And before apo gets offended, yes, 85 should have referred to the "right-wing" evangelical christian set.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:48 AM
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Because environmenal consciousness turns people into godless heathens, through some causal mechanism I've never quite understood

And the ironic thing is, when your religion is right-wing evangelical Christianity, this is actually generally true.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:52 AM
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59: I'd really like to see the full context of that quote.

So far that specific quote only seems to be in Time, but the DAR stuff did get a bit of coverage (they passed a resolution). Here are the most complete AP and UPI write-ups I could find. A lot of quotable material (Scientists are a dime a dozen) but nothing quit as absurd on the face of it as the other one. (The articles are worth a read to see how much of the DAR rhetoric is found in the Tea Party BS of today.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:53 AM
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87: Please share.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:53 AM
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I think the non-religious anti-environmentalism beliefs are a combination of straightforward hippie-punching, and (on a slightly more sophisticated level) a belief that environmentalism is an either consciously or unconsciously dishonest attempt to attack technology and business out of an ideological opposition to both. Greens want to impose pointless environmental controls to cripple business because they hate capitalism.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:53 AM
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Because environmenal consciousness turns people into godless heathens, through some causal mechanism I've never quite understood,

I've understood that in the Judeo-Christian tradition man is given dominion over earth, with everything around created to serve man. I'm not sure exactly where, because heathen that I am, I don't know the bible. (Genesis?) Environmentalism counters that, introducing a contradictory set of beliefs. And if one biblical belief might be wrong...

That way I have some hope for the Christian Care people, who reconcile religious belief and environmentalism by saying they should care for God's creation. That looks like a promising way out of the dilemma.

But I don't understand this aspect well, and that's as much as I know about the issue.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:54 AM
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But it's not far off. Consider this fine data visualisation from the EIA, which shows the sources and fate of every drop of oil extracted or consumed in the United States.

Um, unless I'm reading that chart wrong, it says electric power makes up a tiny fraction of oil consumption in the US.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:55 AM
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Earth Day, Earth Day
Lots of fun!
Earth Day, Earth Day
Bring your gun!
Earth Day, Earth Day
Lots of cheer!
Earth Day, Earth Day
Shoot some deer!

And that was all I had to do for science that day.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:56 AM
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One of the things I've never understood about the anti-environmentalist/environmentalist-conspiracy people is, who do they think is benefiting from the evil effort to curtail their freedom? Big

The New World Order, obviously. Combating climate change would require global coordination and strict regulation of business. Therefore one world commie government run by George Soros.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:57 AM
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In the 11th grade I wrote an ode to Boron for some sort of grade in my chem class. So you see I don't deserve all the credit for how I turned out - some thanks is owed to the quality of my education.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 10:58 AM
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96: Oh, that's better than my 92 -- environmental regulation as an attempt to seize centralized government control over business.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:01 AM
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I think 92 is right for a lot of general everyday anti-environmentalism--just mentally dismiss the environmentalists as hippies and luddites--but I was focused more on the the envionmentalism-is-a-giant-scientific-conspiracy aspect of Stanley's question, where that doesn't work as well.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:02 AM
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99 (cont.): although I guess that's not right--there's a lot of general dismissing of "academics" as anti-business (anti-freedom/anti-capitalism/anti-America), so I can see how the scientists would be swept into that.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:03 AM
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100 without seeing 96, which seems very likely right, in terms of plausibility and coherence with the general mindset of the movement, although, oddly, I've never heard things presented in exactly that way by any of the anti-environmentalists themselves.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:09 AM
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That way I have some hope for the Christian Care people, who reconcile religious belief and environmentalism by saying they should care for God's creation. That looks like a promising way out of the dilemma.

I have a similar soft spot for the hunting-type conservationalists. Sure, go shoot some deer (with text, apparently). As long as we agree on the woods being good.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:09 AM
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In the 11th grade I wrote an ode to Boron for some sort of grade in my chem class.

I thought Boron was a superhero whose power was to end bad guys to sleep by talking to them about his operation. This was in chem class?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:11 AM
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In the 11th grade I wrote an ode to Boron for some sort of grade in my chem class.

I'm pretty sure the archives contain my 11th-grade song commemorating Mole Day, but I can't turn it up. To encourage you to share hour Boron ode, here's the song:

Mole Day! Mole Day!
Sixpointohtwotimestentothetwentythird!
Mole Day! Mole Day!
It's Mole Day. Word.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:13 AM
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96 is sort of what I was getting at about watermelons upthread. It really doesn't help that a fair number of environmentalists really do want some sort of central authority running things.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:13 AM
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97: Among the reputed unpublished manuscripts of Whitman, surely Icosohedra of Boron is one of the most intriguing.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:15 AM
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Sure, go shoot some deer (with text, apparently)

I've only ever shot a bb gun at a target, and that at my grandfather's house, because he thought a boy should have at least limited access to some sort of firearm. I mostly just wanted attention. We are who we are.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:15 AM
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Scientists have sold out to the hippies. That's what happens when you turn away from God.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:17 AM
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We are who we are.

I LIKE SPINACH. DISCUSS.


Posted by: OPINIONATED POPEYE THE SAILORMAN | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:18 AM
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I don't remember much of the Boron poem, except that it was a parody of Langston Hughes' "Ode to Landlord" and it began:

Boron, Boron, where you be?
Conductor of 'lectricity!


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:18 AM
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On the other hand, there's no non-political reason that the suburbs came into existence, either.

I don't think I quite know what you mean here. Care to elaborate? And LB, I think the idea of peak oil is in currency among a small class of cultural elites. If the concept has spread from there, I'd be quite surprised, as I see no evidence of such a thing among my students who are forced, in one of my classes, to study these issues. Now maybe I'll read the thread.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:18 AM
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96: This is one of the themes that the DAR harped on back in '70. It warned that President Nixon's recently appointed Council on Environmental Quality "may be the vehicle through which the federal government Will assert vast new powers over our personal habits and create added control over the individual."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:20 AM
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108: Another 1970 DAR quote, "Scientists are a dime a dozen."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:21 AM
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They see themselves as doing God's will, is what I'd say.

Right. I think there is some of the same motivation in the environmental movement. You don't need some giant villain in the background to explain why people try and get other people to be like them. Most groups of people think the world would be a better place if everybody else would just see that they are right and act like them.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:23 AM
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Another 1970 DAR quote, "Scientists are a dime a dozen."

Whereas a daughter of the american revolution will cost you at least membership in a better country club than she already enjoys.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:23 AM
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111: sure: suburbs were very much an intentional result of the policy choices of mid-century urban planners; most obviously because of the interstate highway system, but also because of the mortgage subsidies that started to get written into the tax law with the GI Bill during WWII, but have continued and expanded since.

Beyond all that, federal, state and local zoning and building regulations have been written to favor single-family development for years and years. If you're a developer, it's vastly easier to get approval for a subdivision of detached single-family homes than it is to build a high-density apartment complex, let alone a mixed-use retail/residential development (which anyhow is almost certain to be poorly served by necessary public transit or pedestrian access). The deck is totally stacked.

Now, I don't think any of this happened nefariously, particularly. The people who implemented these policies definitely thought it was a better solution than the existing one of urban rental apartment living. But they still had to make it happen politically. It wasn't organic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:33 AM
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Earth Day!
Earth Day!
Making compost and no driving!
Earth Day!
Lenin Day!
Do all your shopping...at Wal-mart!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:36 AM
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White flight is arguably political.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:37 AM
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Too much of a fetish is made in these discussions of the urban/suburban distinction and the density issue. The real issue is resource consumption per capita, of which suburbanization is one example of the currently unsustainable way we live. But current urban resource consumption isn't sustainable either. The kind of dense urban communities designed to minimize reliance on fossil-fuel driven production processes would look almost nothing like what we've got.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:38 AM
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I wish I had white flight. Is it cos I'm Jewish? It wouldn't be as nice as telepathy,[1] admittedly, but it would be pretty useful.


[1] "telepathy" sounds as if it should be a way to feel pains etc. at a distance or in others, not a way to read minds.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:39 AM
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118: I agree. I just figured that needlessly complicated my point. The initial existence, growth and continued existence of suburbs is all political, pretty much.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:40 AM
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119: I dunno, my favela's pretty green. I mean, it's in the middle of a nature sanctuary and everything.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:40 AM
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116: Oh, you're talking about those suburbs. Sorry, I was thinking of the earlier streetcar suburbs or even the more distant places like where Knecht lives. And in those cases, sure, politics played a role, insofar as politics always plays a role in urban/suburban/town morphology. But I also think there are some important ways in which culture*, especially the ostensibly palliative qualities of nature, mattered.

* Not that culture, including in this case, exists entirely separate from politics. Just so I'm clear(ish).


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:40 AM
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song commemorating Mole Day

I recently heard a song about Pi Day (written by Zeke Hoskin) I'll see if I can find evidence of it online.

Ah, here it is.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:41 AM
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It figures that I'd prefer telepathy to white flight, because man, think of how useful that would be in business deals.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:42 AM
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Greens want to impose pointless environmental controls to cripple business because they hate capitalism.

I think this about many greens. I wasn't joking about Ezekiel. James Hansen for example has a scolding, millenarian world view-- he's a writer and not a politician, though. The Club of Rome certainly had a bunch of concrete policy predictions in the late 70s that would have been really detrimental had they been implemented.

While free-market types do not have good answers to many environmental problems since there are no natural markets, parties left-of-center generally have a very hard time working out how to allocate resources. Resource allocation is really important, getting it a little bit wrong throws people out of work. Zero-sum pro-market or pro-regulation viewpoints are a stupidly childish way to approach this, IMO.

I bicycle, recycle, and think the democrats are to the right of correct on many issues for whatever that's worth.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:42 AM
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Anyway, I just meant that the modern (post-war) suburbs were an outgrowth of an earlier form of suburban development. And that earlier form didn't emerge because of the existence of interstate highways or white flight, though streetcar lines and racial anxiety certainly helped. I mean, there's always push and pull factors; it's just that sometimes politics seems like too blunt an instrument if you're looking to assign causal weight to one thing or another.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:44 AM
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123: oh, I mean, it's very difficult to separate them out. Le Corbusier obviously wasn't come from an ideological place, exactly, and a lot of the original impetus came from shock and revulsion over the negative qualities of tenement living. And god knows suburban living was a cultural phenomenon in a way that eventually vastly outstripped the ways that it was a political phenomenon. But it wouldn't have happened without specific policies being devised and implemented with specific political goals in mind. I feel like there's often this discussion of development patterns that assumes that people have always wanted to live in the suburbs, and were just waiting patiently for them to exist, which doesn't really describe the full picture.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:45 AM
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I'd like to preemptively disavow parts of 127 on the grounds that certain passages up there aren't sufficiently clear.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:45 AM
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128: Even though I've disavowed parts of 127, I think it still works with some of what you're saying here.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:46 AM
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130: I don't think 128 was particularly clear either, but yeah, I think we've muddled through to comity. Certainly I think the existence of somebody like (oh, here it comes) Jane Jacobs is evidence that there was ideological resistance to the idea of suburbanization.

I also think streetcar suburbs are a little different -- because they were linked to transit lines, they always had a sort of natural point (well, line) of density, and were much less manifestations of the "uniform low density everywhere" ideal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:50 AM
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Certainly I think the existence of somebody like (oh, here it comes) Jane Jacobs is evidence that there was ideological resistance to the idea of suburbanization.

And evidence, I think, that earlier figures in the history of suburbanization weren't necessarily ideology-free (as is asserted in 128); just perhaps not influenced by the same ideology others.

I thought better of an earlier comment that would have been prefaced with the acknowledgment that everything I know about this I learned from the first half of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, but I think the above, at least, I can get away with.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:54 AM
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132.1: yeah, I put that badly. Le Corbusier was very ideological, he just wasn't political, per se. He had his own extremely weird personal ideology (for instance: high ceilings are bad for people!). And of course if you look at like early Bauhaus they were very ideological.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:57 AM
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133 cont'd: but of course neither Corbusier or Bauhaus were strictly related to single family subdivision-style development in the US.

What am I even talking about, here? Forget I mentioned anything about any architects.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:58 AM
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And of course if you look at like early Bauhaus they were very ideological.

One might think!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:00 PM
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The sad thing about reading these threads only every 70 or so posts is that I come up with an awesome idea at about 100 and find out that someone's already posted it at 117. Curse you, Jesus!


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:00 PM
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119: But current urban resource consumption isn't sustainable either. The kind of dense urban communities designed to minimize reliance on fossil-fuel driven production processes would look almost nothing like what we've got.

This is a useful corrective to any temptation on the part of urbanites to think that their current form of life will be less problematic post-peak-oil.

As Megan mentions up in 44, and I think is about where we left off last time we discussed this:

If it becomes a zero-sum game, I expect the cities to use their money and power to get what they need and refuse to subsidize the suburbs.

Which is to say that during any transition period, cities will fare better not necessarily because they're more efficient, but because they'll have the power to allocate resources to their advantage. Meanwhile looking at a massive influx of residents from the exurbs.

We'd do better to encourage smaller, more locally sustainable 'villages', per several comments upthread.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:08 PM
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Brasilia turned fifty yesterday. Its architect is sad.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:10 PM
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I recall puzzling over the depictions of suburban slum districts when I began to read pre-20th century literature as a preteen (also contemporaneous descriptions of 3rd world cities). The world wasn't always like 1960's Midwestern US? Who knew?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:14 PM
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I'd like to make a Folsom Prison joke, but am too weak with hunger to formulate anything. Maybe I should head out to the suburbs for a chicken sandwich.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:17 PM
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Maybe I should head out to the suburbs for a chicken sandwich KFC Double Down!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:20 PM
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You're trying to kill me, aren't you Stanley?

Hey, the primary race to take on our do-nothing Republican congressman has heated up. I think I like the one with the blog, and knows how to use it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:24 PM
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116:Those cars and construction and highways and refrigerators and schools and shopping centers...created jobs. They meant jobs afterWWII and they mean jobs now. We are now living in a country that losing all that wasteful stuff and looking at 20% underemployment and no plan.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:24 PM
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The ad is presumably related to this.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:26 PM
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144: Presumably, yes. Hard to believe the woman is making electoral headway. Then again, it's hard to believe that I'm rooting for the establishment Republican figure.

It's a strange day when Dems start worrying about the state of the opposition party.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:32 PM
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who do they think is benefiting from the evil effort to curtail their freedom

Look, I am not an anti-environmentalist or teabagger or anti-intellectual or GW-denier. I am a fucking communist, and "cui bono" is the only question.

Who is benefiting?. Well, check out the OP and ask if LB and her friends expect to profoundly suffer from the transition and de-suburbanization and you may get a clue.

This is what I came up with while walking the dogs. I'll use Yglesias instead of somebody else.

Yglesias wants to use his urban control (influence) over government, finance, banking, and money to spike energy prices, thereby destroying the value of my 1500 sq ft on 1/8 acre, and my retirement in the bargain. Yglles wants to convert that land to windfarms and agribusiness, at somebody's profit, but not mine. Meanwhile as millions of suburbanites are forced into the city, the value of Yglesias's condominium will skyrocket. Yglles can use that profit to become a landlord of a filthy tenement, 10 suburbanites to a room. We will be eating brown bread and getting TB, while Nouveau riche Yggles will go to his terrific Thai restaurant and Indie band drawn along by me driving the rickshaw. Until I die.

Hey I want to save the Earth too. If Yggles really cared he would take the tenement, brown bread, and rickshaw while I got the condo, that food , and indie rock.

Whenever I hear of parties like LB's I hear:"The earth is dying, and the Suburbanites are gonna Pay to fix it"

Thing is, this is eactly Gilded Age redux, so fucking Victorian, so freaking progressive it is hilarious.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:45 PM
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We will be eating brown bread

I love brown bread! Pumpernickel with swiss, hummus, and a good fresh tomato slice? Delicious.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:51 PM
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bob, there's plenty of indie rock for all of us.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:52 PM
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140/144/145: that's yet another thing that's completely beyond parody. She really meant bartering?? Yes, she really did. That's her solution for health care. And she's going to be a Senator. Drink up, America.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:52 PM
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Hey, I just baked brown bread to bring to dinner with the couple in the post last night. (That artisan bread in 5 minutes a day book? Is great for showing off. Throw a baguette's worth of premade dough on a pizza stone forty minutes before dinner, and show up with fresh bread. Mmm.)

And anyone who wants it can have my share of indie rock.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:58 PM
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149: I wish I lived in that district just so I could drop off a chicken at her campaign HQ as a donation.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 12:59 PM
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And anyone who wants it can have my share of indie rock.

See bob, the urban aristocrats have noblesse oblige down much better than the old oil ones did.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:00 PM
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I look forward to a remake of Berlin Alexanderplatz with bob as the suburban everyman. Working title: Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:06 PM
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151: I hope a lot of people in her district think like you.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:13 PM
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146: *clears throat* Leaving aside the utterly hyperbolic remarks about Yglesias -- I don't read his blog -- there is a point here. Particularly this:

"The earth is dying, and the Suburbanites are gonna Pay to fix it"

The idea would be that the suburbanites (really, exurbanites) are holding the land that's needed for projects required to fix things. We need that land. And that may be true, but just to an extent. I sure as hell hope we're not supposed to need it for agribusiness.

I don't remotely suggest, as bob apparently does, that LB (as stand in) takes this view, but there's a peculiarly us v. them standpoint in all this that crops up from time to time, where what we in fact need is a more encompassing, i.e. progressive, perspective on how to manage the transition.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:13 PM
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Does Yggles own his own place? I kind of assumed he was a renter. But maybe that's just because I can't imagine a journalist (I know, I know) his age in the UK being able to buy their own home.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:17 PM
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I believe he owns a condo, but I'm not really an expert on Yggles' personal bio.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:21 PM
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To be more clear, 157 should have said "I believe I recall reading on his blog that he owns a condo..."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:22 PM
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He noted at some point in the last year that he was shopping around for a condo, and then that he was moving. It's weird that I know this, given that I don't read him unless he's been linked in some important-ish seeming way. The relevant posts were connected to his ruminations on urban planning, probably.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:25 PM
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This chart's for bob. From the Wikipedia article, Energy in the United States. which is a pretty good read. Learned a few things from it, for instance the regional variations only partly aligned with my preconceptions.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:30 PM
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but there's a peculiarly us v. them standpoint in all this that crops up from time to time

I see people reacting that way when I talk about believing that increased energy costs are going to make sprawl much more expensive and denser, more urban living much more common as a result -- starting from peep at the first comment in this thread, Charley, Bob, and now you. As though it were hostility directed at people who don't live in cities, or other dense living situations.

From this end, it doesn't feel like us v. them so much as 'Heh, looks like "Them" is going to end up living like "Us", and may find out that it's not actually a dystopian nightmare. Come on in to the city, the water's fine.'


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:36 PM
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(To the extent that it's interesting, a chunk of the conversation was about whether we could talk the co-op board into allowing the installation of clotheslines for outdoor drying.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:40 PM
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157: Yes, and having read Rafael's most recent autobiographical novel and Matt's blog for many years, I feel like I am an expert on Matt's personal bio.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:41 PM
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Sifu @116: If you're a developer, it's vastly easier to get approval for a subdivision of detached single-family homes than it is to build a high-density apartment complex, let alone a mixed-use retail/residential development

Last week our City Council considered a second stage developmental special use permit. The developer wants to build two residential/retail buildings containing roughly 1200 apartments on what is now a parking lot adjoining a Metro station not too far from my house. Being a good citizen, I downloaded and started reading the staff memo. I'd reached page 22 or so before I realized that the indicator on the side of the window was still near the top. The memo runs to 190 pages. Massive detail: even how far apart the street trees must be. There's a small surface parking lot because the supermarket the developer has a contract with insisted on some surface parking. One of the conditions is if the supermarket deal falls through, the developer has to come back with the surface parking reconsidered. It was clear from the memo that there had been many meetings between the developer staff and the city staff, the proposal morphing as the discussion proceeded. And this is only one of the steps. There had already been a stage 1 DSUP (covering a number of blocks the developer owns). After this, there will be a Final Site Plan. Once the city approves that, the developer can actually start moving dirt.

The city gets away with this because it can. The developer will make real money on 1200 apartments (expensive ones, too, since the amenity deck will contain not just a pool, but hot tubs and a climbing wall). It's willing to jump through these hoops. And the developer will make that money because there's a lot of people want to live in fancy apartments next to Metro.


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:56 PM
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Come on in to the city, the water's fine fucking fantastic, per the recent water thread.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 1:57 PM
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161: Nay, I don't feel attacked in these kinds of threads, though I do think that the common view of urbanites of how suburbanites live generalizes a bit too much. People in downright sprawl zones do wind up costing a pretty penny, but it doesn't have to be that way. Certainly our existing transportation policies aren't helping the matter.

It's not actually a dystopian nightmare. Come on in to the city, the water's fine

Living in the city is fine. I certainly don't think it's a dystopian nightmare, depending on the city you're talking about.

It is true that the vision of an earth on which we're all crowded into NYC-like enclaves seems frightful to me.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:04 PM
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"per the recent water thread" s/b "RTFA!"

Don't go soft on us, Stanley.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:05 PM
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I doubt that urban living will become "much more common" with increased energy prices. I also doubt that it would become more pleasant. My point, though, was that NYC lives in a symbiotic relationship with suburban America. Money that goes directly to higher energy costs is money that doesn't get diverted to the big casino 'downtown' or to any of the other value-adding industries featured on your island. That is, the falling tide is going affect all boats, even if the effects aren't all equal.

Of course, the implication that if only we could get on some turnip trucks and head on into town, we'd see that NYC is a actually great place to live is kind of charming. I'm glad you love your hometown.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:05 PM
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I do think that the common view of suburbanites of how urbanites view how suburbanites live generalizes a bit too much.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:06 PM
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The idea would be that the suburbanites (really, exurbanites) are holding the land that's needed for projects required to fix things.

We don't need that land to fix things. We just need to stop paying for disproportionately expensive firefighting to protect that spread out land. And to stop running mains out that far. Or, in other areas, it'd be great to stop building and maintaining levees for all those miles and miles of exurbs. Suburbanites can't pay for all those themselves, but once suburbs exist, they say "how can you let the value of our homes collapse?" Dunno, but if we get poorer, we can't afford to support the value of your homes either. When they're in close, it all gets cheaper.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:09 PM
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LB, I understand your hometown love.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:12 PM
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My point, though, was that NYC lives in a symbiotic relationship with suburban America.

I'm not following this. Obviously, increased energy costs aren't going to make NYC, or NYC residents, richer; like everyone else affected by them, we're going to get poorer.

And, you know, I doubt there's going to be significant population growth literally for NYC; it's pretty close to full (I suppose it could get denser, but not a whole lot). If I were making predictions, I'd be expecting new housing in other cities and towns to be built more densely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:12 PM
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Of course, the implication that if only we could get on some turnip trucks and head on into town, we'd see that NYC is a actually great place to live is kind of charming.

My apologies for having offended you -- I'll try to be less abrasive on this subject in future.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:13 PM
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170: When they're in close, it all gets cheaper.

Those of you in the vaster regions have more of a problem, yes. The east coast is pretty close in already.

Agreed that the vast and ridiculous development and sprawl in, say, Nevada is insupportable. I don't know what people were thinking.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:22 PM
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Hold your ground, LB. There are two ways to go about this internet business.

The first way is for everyone to be confident they're right, and from the serenity that offers, feel nothing but slighlty pitying bemusement for other people's wrong assertions about the best place to live.

The other way is for people to not assert things, or to do that in a qualified way, and to say "there's no accounting for tastes" all the time. And apologize if there were hurt feelings anyway. But that way leads to tedious conversations and the internet will grind to a halt.

Stand up for right, LB! Those fuckers SHOULD find their way to a turnip truck! NY'll blow their tiny minds! I shouldn't, having already found the best place to live. But see, I know that and you can't offend me.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:23 PM
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Them, they've got ridiculous development and sprawl. Us? We're fine.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:24 PM
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Those fuckers SHOULD find their way to a turnip truck!

And pack 'em in tight, too, for maximum fuel efficiency.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:26 PM
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Those fuckers SHOULD find their way to a turnip truck!

They MAY fall off the turnip truck. They MUST NOT find their way to a rutabaga truck.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:26 PM
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A turnip train.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:28 PM
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Knowing how those people are, though, they'll probably all turn up each driving their own huge Suburban Uturnipy Vehicle.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:33 PM
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An ecologically cheap way to turn burbs into towns would be widespread adoption of mixed-use zoning. Politically a complete fantasy, like a co-op permitting clotheslines, of course.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:35 PM
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176: I understood Megan to be saying roughly that: there's insupportable development and sprawl in certain areas out west, and things would be better if things were closer in. I then realized (yet again) that the terms of discussion were quite a bit different on west and east coasts, and observed that things were already closer in on the east coast. So our problems would be different ones, which is not to say that we're fine, and I didn't suggest that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:37 PM
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Turnip train. Not totally OT: "Not only will our poor farmers be able to extend their trade and get higher prices for their produce, but the people of the two cities can also enjoy fresh vegetables," he said. Difficult to fault the reason or the rhyme -- rich cities feed on fresh lady's fingers [okra-JPS] grown by poor farmers of Bihar.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:37 PM
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182: this is really only true in cities on the coast, though. You don't have to get very far off the coast at all, even in coastal states, for things to sprawl out quite a bit.

And, come to think of it, isn't that actually true out west as well?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:40 PM
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181 gets it exactly right. I deleted an earlier comment about zoning laws for fear that I'd be laughed out of the room.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:41 PM
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184: You don't have to get very far off the coast at all, even in coastal states, for things to sprawl out quite a bit

Yeah. The sprawl in eastern states, inland, sucks; just not to the degree of the Las Vegas or Reno types of cities out west, not even remotely. And whichever California communities Megan is referring to, which require excessive amounts of expenditure for firefighting and water provision and so on. CA is huge, the west and southwest are huge, people are extremely spread out and apparently consider a 2- or 3-hour drive not much of a big deal. This is insupportable and at least the east coast doesn't have quite that problem.

We still have ridiculous sprawl. Water's certainly not the problem.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:52 PM
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Water's certainly not the problem.

Are you talking only your vicinity, or the East Coast generally? If the latter, that's not a true statement.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:57 PM
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Parsimon isn't counting the south as part of the east coast, maybe?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 2:59 PM
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Couple points (I've just skimmed, not really read the thread):

1) There's a big difference between many areas that one thinks of as "suburbs." Many suburbs were built before the automobile. Indeed, many areas that we think of as quintessential car-culture type places weren't designed for that -- much of Southern California, for example, was originally planned to work together with a streetcar system. Those places are really totally different from some more recent development, e.g., single-developer tracts built out 30 miles from Phoenix or 75 miles from Chicago.

2)It's really silly (for either pro or anti-NY people) to think that the issue is whether we have "Manhattan" or "sprawl." There's plenty of densification you can do within many existing suburban or spread-out configurations, and the ecological advantages of moving from slightly more dense railroad suburbs to Manhattan-style density are pretty much nonexistent.

3) I'm generally pro-increasing density for a lot of reasons, but I'd say lack of density is way overrated as an environmental problem; (as someone, I think CB, said above) the real issue is just total resource use. A Manhattanite who doesn't drive but eats sushi that was air-shipped (as most sushi is) isn't necessarily doing that much to reduce CO2 use.

4) As I mentioned above, I'm extremely optimistic about the development of non-CO2 emitting cars. The Honda FCX Clarity is already a hydrogen fuel cell car that works, and I'd bet that the world invests money in producing greener cars before it gives up on the automobile. For all of their problems, cars really do offer folks a lot of freedom that they don't get in other ways, which is why they cars are one of the first things most people want to buy as soon as they can afford one. I'd bet that ending CO2 emissions from personal-use automobiles is actually probably one of the easier challenges we'll have in the world of global warming.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:06 PM
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Quick, people, can you name the two densest cities outside of the NY metropolitan area? I'll bet you can't.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:07 PM
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I thought the Atlanta water squabble was over subsidized water to farmers, not lawns and toilets. How expensive would peanuts and peaches get if farmers had to pay for their water? 2% increase? 5%?

There's still rice grown in Alabama; this is a squabble over the constituents of sparsely populated counties.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:08 PM
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187, 188: Ah. Yes, I'm thinking east coast from, say, DC up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:09 PM
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189.1 has been mentioned.

189.2 has sort of been mentioned

189.3 I don't know, actually. I stopped reading the thread for a while.

189.3 is a little parochial. That is, sure that's true for many parts of the US, but it's hardly universal, even here. I had no interest in buying a car (nor did most of my friends) until I moved to California.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:09 PM
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190: isn't Los Angeles denser than the NY metro area?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:09 PM
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194 cont'd: that's a silly argument, though, as I have previously argued on my blog: LA is most properly seen as the limit condition of sprawl: you can only fight density for so long, and if it arrives without planning you end up with the insane traffic and logistical problems LA faces.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:10 PM
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190: Los Angeles and some other city?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:11 PM
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192: you'd have to exclude Virginia, where sprawl is a huge issue. And of course the "sprawliest" metro area in the US is Atlanta.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:11 PM
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194 -- That's true, but not what I was thinking of (and it's only true for pretty misleading definitions of urban areas, including way spread-out parts of NY's metro area but not LA's). I was asking about actual cities -- and I'd bet most people here won't even have heard of the two cities I'm thinking of without looking it up.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:12 PM
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US cities, I should say.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:13 PM
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198: Are you only talking US cities?

Not that that helps me answer the question.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:13 PM
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Are you referring to American cities or worldwide?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:14 PM
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Dammit.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:14 PM
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In light of 201 though, I feel much better now.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:15 PM
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Glad to be of service, M/tch.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:16 PM
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I'd bet most people here won't even have heard of the two cities I'm thinking of

I'm dying to hear the answer now. Never even heard of them?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:17 PM
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198: oh, wait. They're little tiny independent metropolises within other cities, aren't they? Or are you actually talking about metro areas?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:18 PM
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Aren't the least dense Huntsville, AL and Superior, WI?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:18 PM
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I dunno, dude. I've heard of LA and SF before.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:18 PM
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Also, it's not a "misleading" definition of urban areas! It's by the actual technical definition of metro area.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:19 PM
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Omit "by".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:19 PM
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I'm curious too -- I wonder if we're talking smaller 'cities' that most people would think of as part of the metro area of a nearby metropolis. Like, Newark or someplace like that, or the Chicago equivalent?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:19 PM
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Quick, people, can you name the two densest cities outside of the NY metropolitan area

I know one is bitching Somerville, MA


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:21 PM
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WOW. I can see Somerville FROM MY HOUSE!

No wonder I'm such an expert on density.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:22 PM
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And I'm wrong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population_density


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:22 PM
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Yeah, cheating with Wikipedia, it seems like once you're actually talking about real cities as such, the list is exactly what you would expect. If you're fiddling around with various census designations, the question slides into meaninglessness.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:22 PM
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I thought that most reported densities were artifacts of city limits.
http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/a-tale-of-many-cities/


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:22 PM
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211: Yeah, I'm thinking that's what he's talking about. Aren't some of the Vietnamese and Mexican neighborhoods/cities in the southeast portion of LA crazy crowded? I still bet I've heard of them.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:23 PM
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211 -- Yes, the list includes smaller cities that are part of a bigger metro area. 8 of the 10 are in the NY area, including Jersey City, Newark, and NYC itself. But two aren't. What are they?

198 -- Sure, but I think there's a lot of truth to the "what are you talking about" reaction most people have when you cite the LA is denser than NY statistic. The region as a whole is more closely built-in, but NY proper produces a "denser" feeling for its inhabitants.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:24 PM
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I mean, It's all little bits of the NYC metro area, LA and Miami, until you get down to Somerville. So those don't count.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:24 PM
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I also have no idea why North Bay Village was allowed to become a municipality. It's basically an apartment building on the intracoastal on the way to Miami Beach.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:25 PM
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Here are some maps on the 'LA more dense' than NY question. I have to admit that I have no idea at all what the definition of "urbanized area" or "metro area" is that would allow you to draw a map.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:25 PM
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I take it back. I have never even heard of Cudahy. I described it right in 217, though.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:25 PM
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Ach, you cheated! The answer is Maywood, CA and Cudahy, CA, two cities south of LA with about 98% Latino population. Huntington Park, another Latino suburb, is next on the list, followed by West Hollywood (gays and Russians). You have to get pretty far down the list before you get to places that aren't in either the NY or LA area.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:26 PM
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219: Somerville is part of Cambridge which is part of Boston. It doesn't count.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:28 PM
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I think any reasonable person would just call Maywood and Cudahy "East LA".


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:28 PM
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221: there ya go.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:28 PM
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Whatever. I knew the answer conceptually.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:28 PM
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224: um, that's only true for definitions of "Cambridge" which include cities that aren't part of Cambridge and definitions of "Boston" that include cities that aren't part of Boston. Which is sort of the point of what halford was saying.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:29 PM
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225: Accent on the "ell" sound.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:29 PM
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215 gets it right. I'm not sure this is any more meaningful than asking "what's the densest street in the country?" Who gives a shit?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:29 PM
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228 cont'd: and since there's no such thing as the "Cambridge metropolitan area", it doesn't really make a lot of sense anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:31 PM
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228: but nobody cares what the official definitions of Cambridge/Somerville/Boston are. It's all the Boston-area. If lots of people live in one city and work in the other (and vice versa), they're the same city.

I think what we're really interested in is the density of MSA's, maybe? (Although that seems potentially overinclusive.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:33 PM
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Doing density by 'metro area' seems to me to be fundamentally flawed, though. I'm not actually sure how this plays out for actual cities, but take two imaginary cities, Efficientburg and Sprawlville. Efficientburg is my dream city -- a dense core, surrounded by tentacles of dense, walkable towns and villages on mass transit lines that allow people who live there to commute to the city. In between the tentacles is agricultural land and wilderness. Sprawlville, on the other hand, has pretty much constant density everywhere: endless subdivisions of singlefamily homes. Now, if you draw metro areas as polygons that enclose most of the population, Efficientville is going to end up looking less dense than it really is, because its walkable towns are going to be averaged in with the potato fields.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:34 PM
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232.2: well, right. I agree. Have I seemed to disagree?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:35 PM
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It still doesn't make a damn bit of sense to say Somerville is part of Cambridge.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:35 PM
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Someone who wanted to make Efficientburg sound attractive probably wouldn't have used the word 'tentacles'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:35 PM
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233: why? You just need more sides on your polygon to more accurately describe Efficientburg.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:36 PM
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235: that, I'll grant.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:38 PM
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230 -- People who live there!

Seriously, the fact that 3 of the densest cities in the country are Latino suburbs of LA that you've never heard of doesn't surprise you? I mean, I've lived in LA most of my life and have barely heard of Cudahy. It also suggests that urban density can take a bunch of different forms for different reasons.

233 -- That's right, I think, although the definition of metro area tries to correct for that by including "populated areas." The reason NY comes out as less dense is that the general NYC area has many highly non-dense but populated suburbs, whereas the LA area is more consistently dense all around. Eastern suburbs are, perhaps counterintuitively, much more spread out than most single family housing in the LA area.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:38 PM
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228: I was teasing. I know Somerville is its own place.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:39 PM
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237: Sure, but you have to actually do that properly, and unless you do, the comparison is worthless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:40 PM
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239.last: yeah, I think the census definition of "urban area" plays in.

241: I mean, I bet they thought of that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:41 PM
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Although SMSA does seem to be calculated by county, which is somewhat odd.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:42 PM
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Or, another way of putting 239 -- LA County and the city of LA proper includes a bunch of totally uninhabited desert, but the places that are inhabited are, on the whole, built up more densely than the NY area as a whole, including suburbs.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:44 PM
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The reason NY comes out as less dense is that the general NYC area has many highly non-dense but populated suburbs, whereas the LA area is more consistently dense all around.

Well, this is sort of what I'm saying about Efficientburg and Sprawlville. NY isn't my Efficientburg, because of the non-dense suburbs. But, while they're dense enough to be counted as part of the metro area, because they're non-dense, only a smallish percentage of the NY Metro area lives in them -- while the NY Metro area looks less dense because you're averaging the population over a land area than includes these non-dense suburbs, most of that population does live in very dense areas.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:45 PM
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LA County and city of LA also include incredibly tall, totally wild, oft-snow-capped mountains. That always blew me away.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:45 PM
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Would I had seen a turnip truck! (for how can I imagine it?)

If I should see a turnip truck, what should I say? If I should never see a turnip truck, what then?

Did I ever see one painted?--described? Have I never dreamed of one?

Did my father, mother, uncle, aunt, brothers or sisters, ever see a turnip truck? What would they give? How would they behave? How would the turnip truck have behaved? Is he wild? Tame? Terrible? Rough? Smooth?

--Is the turnip truck worth seeing?--

--Is there no sin in it?--

Is it better than a RUTABAGA TRUCK?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:45 PM
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245: but... that's how density works! I don't think anybody's saying that LA actually USES LAND BETTER than New York. Just that overall, it's surprisingly (unfirormly) dense.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:46 PM
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The Times article I linked point to this book which goes into the population statistics of 6x6 mile squares in excruciating detail, without regard to political boundaries.

Here's a PDF:
http://www.econ.umn.edu/~holmes/papers/holmes_lee_nber_revision2.pdf

Figure 6 shows that the mid-atlantic is totally much more crowded in this sense than CA.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:49 PM
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Miami Beach

You know what place sucks? Miami Beach. It's at, like, maximum possible sucktrocity density.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:50 PM
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I think what LB is saying is that the real measure of a city's density is the average of every resident's Walkscore.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:51 PM
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I've always had a great time on Miami Beach. Maybe you just don't know the right people, Stanley.

Well, or you aren't there during winter music conference. That could do it, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:52 PM
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251: that's interesting! I would be curious about that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:52 PM
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You know what place sucks? Miami Beach. It's at, like, maximum possible sucktrocity density.

If you remove the people, there are pockets of it that are redeemable, but most of it has gone to shit over the last 15 years.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:53 PM
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By the way, here's an article on life in Cudahy, "The Town that Law Forgot.

Apparently, it's completely controlled by the Mexican Mafia.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:54 PM
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248: The thing is, if you want high density for environmental reasons, you really want wildly varying density -- so dense as to be walkable where there are people, wide open country with very few people in it inbetween. Highish but not terribly high density over a vast area is sort of a worst case scenario. (The NY Metro area isn't actually good by this metric -- the low density suburbs should be much lower density.)

So if you're thinking "Density is good for environmental reasons", looking at average density over a metropolitan area, not distinguishing between smooth and lumpy density is going to lead you astray.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:55 PM
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251: Sort of! If Walkscore were real! Kinda!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:55 PM
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256: oh, I totally agree.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:56 PM
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That is, density without planning is useless. Centrality and public transportation are the real keys.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:57 PM
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My point, though, was that NYC lives in a symbiotic relationship with suburban America.

I'm not following this. Obviously, increased energy costs aren't going to make NYC, or NYC residents, richer; like everyone else affected by them, we're going to get poorer.

The Wikipedia article on US energy consumption that was linked somewhere upthread implies that I'm living in the state with the lowest per-household energy consumption in the country, and yet higher energy prices promise to whack us pretty soundly. I took Charley to be suggesting that NYC is in a somewhat analogous position, in that its economy is heavily dependent on providing services that people from other places expend energy to be able to purchase.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:58 PM
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County density is also problematic, but I think still more useful for comparison than either city of metro density. In well settled areas, anyway (and ignoring places like Riverside and San Berdoo). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/County_statistics_of_the_United_States#Fifty_most_densely_populated_counties_.28or_county_equivalents.29

My city is now 3,300 per sq mile.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 3:58 PM
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yet higher energy prices promise to whack us pretty soundly.

You're, of course, peculiarly vulnerable to transportation cost increases in a way that's not closely related to issues NY has. But of course, higher energy costs hurt everyone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:02 PM
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The thing is, if you want high density for environmental reasons, you really want wildly varying density -- so dense as to be walkable where there are people, wide open country with very few people in it inbetween.

I'm not sure that's quite right. Or, rather, you can have walkability at (relative to Mahattan) extremely low densities, without the need for the open spaces. Mostly, though, the East Coast really isn't like that at all -- NYC itself is very dense, but there are lots and lots of people in very non-dense, inefficient burbs.

I propose that the average of a town's Walkscore be known as a city's Swaverage, short for SWPL-Average.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:02 PM
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261 -- County boundaries are even more arbitrary than city ones! States really set up their counties very, very differently.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:04 PM
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260 -- Yes, but in addition, a bunch of what NY does is allocate surplus income from other places. Cut down the surplus, and you cut down the allocation, and associated fees.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:04 PM
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Yeah there's definitely no need to have Manhattan density for optimal anything, unless you mean optimal delivered food variety at 5AM, or possibly optimal access to graphic designers by the ton.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:04 PM
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Or, rather, you can have walkability at (relative to Mahattan) extremely low densities, without the need for the open spaces.

Unless 'relative to Manhattan' is doing a lot of work here, I'm not getting this. For walkability in the 'you don't need to own a car' sense, you need to have enough people to, e.g., keep a supermarket in business, in a radius of maybe a mile or less. How is that not high density?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:06 PM
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262.1: Are you sure about that? My suspicion is that you have exactly the same problem to a somewhat lesser degree. You bring people in from faraway places for business as well as pleasure, but your economy depends on their coming.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:06 PM
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And I think 259 gets it right. (Even though public transportation is for losers).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:06 PM
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264 -- Outside of California, in a developed area, counties are less nonsensical. Maryland counties could be drawn differently, to be sure. There is, though, a certain cultural logic to the lines. Virginia has small urban counties (independent cities). Mass counties make plots of sense. PA too, I think.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:07 PM
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267: I think "relative to Manhattan" is doing a lot of work.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:11 PM
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267 -- You're right, "relative to Manhattan" is doing a lot of work. All I'm saying is that if you moved a bunch of folks out of Manhattan and densifie-d open areas in parts of Long Island and New Jersey, in walkable streetcar suburbs, you would do just fine without having a world that looks like open fields mixed in with clusters of high rises, which is what I took you to be arguing for.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:12 PM
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268: Well, we're not in the 'almost no manufactured goods come from less than a thousand miles away' boat you're in, and lots of our travellers are closer than yours as well -- we need the people from Philly and DC and Boston. Severely curtailed travel would certainly be a huge, huge, economy-changing event for NYC, but I don't think it'd be all that similar to the effects on Honolulu.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:13 PM
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To clarify a bit: Hawaii's vulnerability to transportation costs isn't necessarily what you think it is. As noted upthread, shipping by water is cheap. Stuff costs more here for a bunch of reasons, but the cost of shipping isn't particularly high on the list (and I do mean cost; price is affected by a bunch of non-cost factors). What we are incredibly vulnerable to is increases in the cost of shipping people here to spend their money.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:14 PM
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How does Hawaii generate electricity anyway? Probably just run a bunch of extension cords down the nearest volcano, I'm guessing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:17 PM
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Is this a good time for me to be bitchy about a sorta-related topic?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:18 PM
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272: Oh, certainly -- look at my description of Efficientburg, with the tentacles of suburbs along the mass-transit lines. I personally like living in the core city, but that's taste, not about it's being more efficient than living in a walkable town.

I wasn't arguing for high-rises in wilderness; more towns with intervening country.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:18 PM
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276: Go for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:18 PM
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I mean, not bitchy to anyone present. But bitchy about a specific person, behind his back?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:19 PM
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Oh you had to bring up volcanos, Stanley.

No no, I'm fine. I'm just thinking about poor essear and SEK.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:19 PM
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As noted upthread, shipping by water is cheap.

This, of course, is right and I wasn't thinking of it enough.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:19 PM
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DUDE! Dude. This morning we had another expert on drought come and talk to us. Which is funny, since I was already primed by my rant to Sifu.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:20 PM
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274 before I saw 273, but I think it's responsive. My point is just that the population of NYC would have to drop a lot for the same reason the population of Honolulu would have to drop a lot. We'd end up in different places--you'd be a much smaller commercial metropolis and we'd be a nicer North Dakota--but NYC in its current form is a lot more dependent on cheap transportation, particularly cheap air travel, than generally gets noted in these conversations.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:20 PM
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279: Remembering of course that in an internet where comment threads get reposted on high volume blogs, nothing is behind anyone's back unless it's password protected.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:20 PM
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This dude wrote a book, which I had read, btw, since I am thorough and interested in my field.

It was a book on what modern societies could learn about handling drought from the Bushmen of central Africa.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:21 PM
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Hopefully, high volume blogs will find this too boring.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:22 PM
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And this dude was very handsome and a little salesman-y, and he was a journalist and had been a speechwriter.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:23 PM
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NYC in its current form

I think our economy would get dislocated all to hell and gone, but I don't know that we'd get smaller; if transportation got much more expensive, we might end up doing a lot more local manufacturing, like we used to before cheap air travel. We are where we are because we're well situated for shipping goods by water, after all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:24 PM
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So he gave us his pitch, which was basically watered-down Ostrom (which he had deduced from his observations, but you know, she measured and explained systematically) mixed with some basic Econ, which he didn't really understand very well.

But it was also very Ernest and an excrutiating hour and a half.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:24 PM
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275: Oil, mostly. A little bit of geothermal on the Big Island and a big garbage incinerator on Oahu. Wind turbines aren't anywhere near where they ought to be, largely because of some bad experiences years ago with technology that wasn't ready for prime time. The biggest sustainable energy thing we're doing is shitloads of solar water heaters. Most of the rest is mostly still trying to get off the ground. We're not very good at getting things done here.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:26 PM
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He had to prompt me for questions, because I couldn't say anything, because (believe it or not) I try not to say anything if I can't say anything nice, and the only thing I could thing of was "do you know how utterly trite you are, or do you think you've added something new?" Which isn't a nice way to talk to guests we've invited.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:26 PM
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Who is Ernest?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:28 PM
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Oh! Borgnine.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:28 PM
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So basically what I'm telling you, NPH, is that if you aren't relying on The Man to trap you with his tourist dollars, and if you're willing to try a subsistence standard of living in Hawaii, I think you could find greater freedom and harmony with Nature, just like the Bushmen. You might need a Bushman matriarch to show you the way, like they did.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:28 PM
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I left before he could give me a copy of his book, which I had checked out of the library the first time I read it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:30 PM
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He sounds dumb, but I don't actually follow "watered down Ostrom".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:32 PM
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The other worst part is that he'd been a successful speechwriter, which means his flowery turns of phrase had been rewarded before. How are we supposed to repair that damage, I ask you?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:33 PM
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He talked about communal resource management strategies in small communities with a long time horizon. Ostrom showed how those work, with more numbers and fewer platitudes.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:35 PM
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296: tragedy of the commons.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:35 PM
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Elinor Ostrom, Economics nobel. NZ fishing rights and the like.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:35 PM
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288 -- If I was feeling catty -- and I'm not -- I'd ask: Who's pining for the 1880s now?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:36 PM
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No, I know who she is, I couldn't figure out what he was saying that was dumb. Just driveling on about how commonses are manageable, so you should go out and manage them?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:36 PM
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Most audiences can't manage numbers and hate detail.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:37 PM
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He isn't dumb. But I'm not sure he realized how much he sounded like a bright undergraduate who hasn't even read the hard papers yet.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:37 PM
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288: Eh, maybe. My speculation would be that a lot of your surplus Wall Street types would end up doing their local manufacturing and whatnot in cheaper places, but prediction is difficult.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:37 PM
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We don't need to go back that far to predate cheap air travel, do we?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:38 PM
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in cheaper places

What makes them cheaper, in a world where transportation is expensive?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:39 PM
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I think our economy would get dislocated all to hell and gone, but I don't know that we'd get smaller; if transportation got much more expensive, we might end up doing a lot more local manufacturing, like we used to before cheap air travel.

But the rise in energy prices is also going to make all the stuff that currently supports those levels of population prohibitively expensive to produce. A lot of the economies of scale of the industrial era have depended on the availability of cheap fossil fuels for their production. I really don't think current levels of population, whether densely populated or dispersed, will be sustainable in an energy scarce future.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:40 PM
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Saying how the Bushmen distributed decisionmaking and they all owned resources together. Well, yeah. That's easy to do if the population is small enough to know everyone, and if you have long time horizons in an unchanging system. And if you are forced to stay within the carrying capacity of your grasslands.

Ostrom is, like, thorough, so she lays out these pre-conditions. The dude is, like, a journalist, so he takes pictures of exotic peoples and thinks the lessons could translate.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:40 PM
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Has anyone else seen that documentary about the Khoi-San people which includes making-of footage taken during the filming of The Gods Must Be Crazy? 'Cause it's pretty freakin' awesome and I can never remember the title.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:43 PM
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...could translate if we could just, you know, understand and be open to the wisdom of the Bush.

I should stop. That's probably enough being bitchy.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:43 PM
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307: Less competition for available land and other resources. NYC grew where it did because it's well situated for shipping goods by water, but that isn't anything like the entire explanation for how it got to be the size it is; there are other good ports.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:47 PM
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I think 308 is basically right, although I'm probably a less pessimistic than you are concerning the need for population decline.

People overrate the transportation sector as a consumer of energy, perhaps because of the need to put gasoline into one's car. A world with serious energy constraints is going to have much bigger problems than an increase in transportation costs.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:48 PM
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re: 307

Containerised ocean transport isn't expensive.

Although I think we should build whacking great sailing ships, because they are just _cool_.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:49 PM
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Megan, I'm getting the sense that you think that complex urban societies may be, I dunno, more complicated than hunter-gatherer societies?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:50 PM
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I can't stop. He titled his talk "Avatar meets the The Gods Must Be Crazy," and where is the sense of shame that would keep a grown man from saying crap like that? You should not freely and intentionally choose Avatar to symbolize yourself and your dealings in Africa.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:51 PM
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Although I think we should build whacking great sailing ships, because they are just _cool_.

Kite-assisted ship!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:52 PM
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Although I think we should build whacking great sailing ships, because they are just _cool_.

Sailing supertankers!


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:53 PM
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316: but The Gods Must Be Crazy is okay, somehow? I think he should have gone with "Mandingo Meets Star Wars Episode 1".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:53 PM
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"Me-sa Need Water: The Environmental Insights of Jar-Jar Binks"


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 4:55 PM
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We got to hear about his transformation, from someone who thought that he could help the Bushman by increasing their water supply, to being someone who realized he needed the Bushman's ancient wisdom to manage water demand. It was all accompanied by a self-deprecating little story about getting his jeep stuck and needing rescue himself.

My questions, unasked, because my manners just barely held firm, were, you needed to learned the white man's lesson as an adult? Why the fuck were you wrong about that in the first place? Maybe because you haven't ever read anything about development in other countries? Having learned that, why would you ever admit how self-satisfied you had been before? Wouldn't you just shut up about it, in hopes that fewer people would notice?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:00 PM
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Let me point out that the population of Cudahy is 25,000 people.

The densest place in Pennsylvania is a glorious 943 people. The only reason anyone in PA has heard of it is that it has a subway stop.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:03 PM
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I mean, I'm crazy ignorant and wrong about just about everything east of the Sierras. But I don't rush off in a Jeep to save Atlanta, and I count every time I withheld my ignorant opinion as a triumph. There aren't enough of those, but at least I understand the principle.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:04 PM
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||

So, you know how I was discussing turkeys at length the other day? Today, they decided to pay a visit to my neighbor's roof. Wily creatures? I think not.

|>


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:04 PM
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Dude, talking over your audience's head will make people hate you, except for some exact-solutions types of people. In most organizations, the accountants or engineers or whoever, they are not the ones who choose speakers.

Only failure and pain teach humility; well, or religion. Anyway, good-looking and comfortable is not a recipe for self-awareness. It sounds kind of touching, actually, though not useful.

That Cudahy article was very nice.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:06 PM
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It was touching in a bright-undergraduate kind of way.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:09 PM
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326: Which is why you're still fuming about it, right?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:11 PM
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Let me point out that the population of Cudahy is 25,000 people.

True, but Cudahy, Huntington Park, and Maywood are all right next to each other. Add them together and you get something like a super-dense, super-poor city of 100,000K, not that much smaller than the City of Hartford (also, there are probably more than 25,000 people in Cudahy, since most are illegal immigrants).

I'm not too sure what the point of this is, but it is interesting.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:12 PM
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The densest city in Montana is the capital of the Blackfeet Nation.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:14 PM
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The densest city in Oregon is a trailer park, pop. 634, near the mall where Tonya Harding used to practice.

324: Wow, you could grab one of those through the window without anybody even noticing.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:24 PM
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Jesus has the right idea on where to live in the coming world. Which, duh.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:38 PM
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Actually, glancing at that list, if you add up the population of the mostly unknown, mostly Latino south-of-LA cities that are next to or very close to one another and that are in the top 100 densest cities, you get a population of roughly 690,000, or a bigger city than Boston, Pittsburgh, or Portland, OR.

Santa Ana, CA, population roughly 330,000, (not included in the 690,000 estimate above; it is in Orange County) is denser than Boston or Philadelphia.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:44 PM
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Browning MT also holds the US record for 24 hour temperature change. Dropped 100 degrees!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:50 PM
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86: that is a fantastic comment, Megan. What's going to kill us is social complexity, not physical resource shortages.

On the other hand, there's no non-political reason that the suburbs came into existence, either.

I don't know, I can understand why people preferred large separated homes on quiet green streets to crowded row houses or apartments on noisy urban alleys. It's just when everyone prefers them all at once that there's a problem.

Of course, that could still be political -- there are those two meanings of politics, a mechanism to express collective desires, and a random process that mysteriously makes stupid things happen for no reason.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 5:53 PM
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333: Superseded by Loma in a late decision, but at least the record stays in the state.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 6:04 PM
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Honolulu, at the other extreme, has an all-time record high of 95 and record low of 52, for a total swing of 43 degrees ever (or ever since thermometers and records and such).


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 6:16 PM
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336: Huh. I definitely would have thought it got above 100° in Hawaii many times a year. Shows what I know.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 6:25 PM
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Those last few degrees suck up a hell of a lot of moisture.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 6:27 PM
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Some of what makes the LA results counter-intuitve is that Riverside-San Berdoo are not included. Setting aside whether they "should" be or not, most people would intuitively include them, and they add a fair bit of sprawliness.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 6:40 PM
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Thanks, PGD. I've had time to think about that rant.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 6:42 PM
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Somewhat interestingly, Alaska and Hawaii share being the US states with the lowest record high temperatures, both being exactly 100°.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 6:43 PM
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Brad DeLong

Good Earth Day thread in which Brad calls for nationalizing the energy sector, among other things. The comments are great, explaining why the DeLong plan is insanely inadequate.

If we are going to save the world, we must have communism now. Now.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 6:47 PM
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Just going thru my blogs

Heh Birthday of Lenin I know this is somewhat pawned

"and stroke the heads of people who could create such beauty while living in this vile hell. And now you must not stroke anyone's head: you might get your hand bitten off. You have to strike them on the head, without any mercy, although our ideal is not to use force against anyone.

Hm, hm, our duty is infernally hard." ...Vladimir

I don't do fucking nice.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:02 PM
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i don't see what the issue is here.

There is a huge amount of coal in the ground.

solar thermal is also reasonable cost, though you can't run factories third shift if you don't have a handy hydrodamn to store the energy in.

plus like 10 other solutions.

we're just to conservative/lazy to stop using oil until its gone.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:04 PM
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I don't know, I can understand why people preferred large separated homes on quiet green streets to crowded row houses or apartments on noisy urban alleys. It's just when everyone prefers them all at once that there's a problem.

meh, i think just about the only reason people (other than myself) do anything is for status. people want the house with the yard etc. because you can exclude other people who don't have it, or don't have it as big a one, or one with granite counters, or whatever. nobody every uses their living room, or their great room, or whatever.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:09 PM
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Actually, yoyo, it turns out that you're completely full of shit about that. But whatever.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 7:10 PM
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I haven't read the whole thread, but the answer to peak oil, and how fairly soon suburban living was going to become absolutely economically and environmentally unworkable is not any time soon. Judging by 'emerging' economies, people switch to car use at what by US standards are very low incomes, c. $10,000 a yr. And that's true even in places like the ex Communist bloc where gas prices are significantly higher than the US. We could have $15 a gallon and it would hurt exurban sprawl, increase use of public transit, and cause some increase in density, but the basic suburban model would remain intact and viable.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 8:57 PM
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Bob, I hate to break it to you, but if you look at the responses to the seventies oil crises, the industrialized communist states did horribly. The ones that did best were strongly centralized democratic welfare states with powerful technocratic elites carefully groomed at ultra-selective universities - i.e. Japan and France. Both quite capitalist, but with no inhibitions about forcing change through government action.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:03 PM
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348:Noted, to be considered. IOW, I am going to think about that for a while, rather than arguing for argument's sake.

I think I am in the archives crying for a Louis Napoleon to turn the country green.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 9:45 PM
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Well, it looks like Loma has the record temperature rise, and Browning the record temperature drop.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:02 PM
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uh russia did pretty well, but thats because sometimes communism=plutocratic resource extracting economy.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:11 PM
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hm now i'm interested in the analogy of russian=texan.

maybe i'm thinking of john boone, was he texan? i think minnesotan, but he seemed sort of texan.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:13 PM
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Aww, fuck me, 12:30 and Renoir's The River is starting on TCM. I only know her work from the movies, but Rumer Godden, well, she's inspirational.

If you haven't seen or read House of Brede...


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:18 PM
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Christ. Scorcese introduces because he adores this film and it is the Criterion restoration. My review sites have orgasms over the job Criterion (and others) did on this film.

I had wondered about some of the TCM showings, they looked very good, and whether they had access to the Criterions. Yup.

Hard day tomorrow.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:26 PM
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Regarding the quote "Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.", I expect it should be read as something like "Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that [the subversive elements claim] is good for them [but actually isn't]."


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:28 PM
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161

From this end, it doesn't feel like us v. them so much as 'Heh, looks like "Them" is going to end up living like "Us", and may find out that it's not actually a dystopian nightmare. Come on in to the city, the water's fine.'

This comes across as naive. The energy advantages of living in cities relative to suburbs (if any) are not large enough to drive significant population shifts unless prices rise so far as to make both situations miserable compared to today.

Similarly energy price increases sufficient to drive passengers from planes to trains will instead just eliminate most long distance travel.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-22-10 11:40 PM
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Efficientburg is my dream city -- a dense core, surrounded by tentacles of dense, walkable towns and villages on mass transit lines that allow people who live there to commute to the city. In between the tentacles is agricultural land and wilderness.

Welcome to Amsterdam.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 1:22 AM
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I think a lot of European cities aren't that far off that, to be honest. Probably because their basic shape evolved prior to the widespread use of the automobile. Even cities that expanded massively in the early industrial period [Manchester, Glasgow, etc] and which weren't well-established in the Middle Ages, all reached their present size more or less before the automobile existed, and certainly a long time before the automobile became affordable for the skilled worker.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 3:25 AM
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358. That's probably a better generalisation for continental Europe (plus, specifically, Glasgow), where most people are happy to live in city apartments, than for the isles, where the aspiration to a Lutyens style semi has never really been overcome.

It's true though that the northern British industrial cities are far more self contained than London and southern England; the endless suburban sprawl is somehow avoided so that Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham have actual edges (with National Park beyond). I'm not sure how this is achieved, but visiting southerners always remark on it.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 4:08 AM
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Glasgow sort of tails off into industrial towns -- Hamilton, Motherwell, Coatbridge, etc -- to the south east and becomes more sprawl-like, but yeah, it has quite clear edges on the other sides. And you only have to go a few miles to hit proper countryside. The distances involved are surprisingly small I'd imagine, when compared to the SE of England, and the US. Edinburgh and Glasgow are only 50 miles apart and there's a LOT of open country in between.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 4:16 AM
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Edinburgh is fairly sprawl-free, because there's nowhere to sprawl to - it's extended from the sea to the Pentland Hills, and that's it.
It may also have something to do with where the money is. In Edinburgh the rich people live in the city centre, in Morningside or the New Town - there isn't really an uninhabited central business district - and the poor people live further out in Pilton and Saughton and so on. And poor people don't sprawl as much because they can't afford to (and/or the council builds them high-density housing).
Therefore, solution to sprawl = make the city centre nice enough to keep the rich people living there.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 4:22 AM
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Yes, in Glasgow the wealthy either live in the West End -- which is surprisingly affordable even now, considering how nice it is compared to the shit holes people think of as 'posh' parts of London -- or in bits of the south side -- think Victorian villas and townhouses, rather than suburban boxes --, which are still fairly urban by southern English standards.

I suppose Edinburgh could, theoretically, sprawl west past Corstorphine out towards Livingstone, and Bathgate and the like.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 4:30 AM
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||

This morning I found an email in my inbox which appeared to come from a regular commenter on this Unfogged. I wasn't expecting it: I've never had off-blog communication with said person, but there it was, so I didn't automatically delete it.

It contained a link to a site advertising C1al1s (yawn!).

Am I being naive here, or is this a new and worryingly sophisticated development in spamming?

|>


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 5:20 AM
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re: 363

There have been a couple of blog commenters who've had their email accounts hacked or otherwise used for spamming, recently. There was an apology in comments a day or two ago. I have a couple arrive in my inbox, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 5:22 AM
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OK. Missed that. Glad to clear it up though.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 5:25 AM
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It contained a link to a site advertising C1al1s

Of course there is the remote possibility that it was an indirect overture.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 5:43 AM
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I think it is new(ish). I doubt I'm in the adress book of the commenter I got spam from, unless it took the adress from a mass email.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 5:44 AM
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367. I suspect mine came from a mass email originally. It's wildly unlikely that the person whose account was used would have me in their personal contact list.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 5:52 AM
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Yes, but I mean that they might have gotten the adresses from old Unfogged threads rather than inboxes, which would be (I guess) a newer method.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:01 AM
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but I mean that they might have gotten the adresses from old Unfogged threads rather than inboxes

The one I got couldn't have come from a comment thread.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:07 AM
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WHEN I DIE YOU WILL FIND "PHILIP AND C1AL1S" ENGRAVED ON MY HEART.


Posted by: OPINIONATED SPAMBOT BLOODY MARY | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:26 AM
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371 is beautiful.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 7:28 AM
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Sprawlville, Ireland.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 04-23-10 11:54 AM
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