Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Peak Suburbia

Sorry, Been Traveling, Here Are Some Links

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Arrested Development Season 4 Timeline. We’re still working our way through, but I’m significantly more bullish on the season than most reviewers, to the point where I feel as though I literally don’t know what some of these people are talking about. I’m talking about this on Twitter now; maybe a post of some sort later. Subtle jokes of season 4. And more.

Dan Harmon asked to return to Community. If it happens, I think I’d like for him to just use a Remedial Chaos Theory gag to undo the entirety of the fourth season. Nice and easy.

A new study from Emory Sports Marketing Analytics concludes that Marquette University has the 9th best fan base in the country among collegiate basketball programs.

An internal faculty report generated by professors in the College of Computing says there were “significant internal disagreements,” despite Georgia Tech’s portrayal of the deal as heavily supported by faculty. 

Interviews and documents also suggest that the full Georgia Tech Academic Senate had little chance to review the deal, which was negotiated at a “rapid pace,” according to the minutes of one faculty committee meeting. Many professors were unaware of the plans until they were announced at the end of the term, said the chairman of one faculty committee.
 
Walmart Workers Launch First-Ever ‘Prolonged Strikes.’
 
Google’s plan to personalize maps could end public space as we know it.
 
Unpaid internships and a culture of privilege are ruining journalism.

* “You are all going to die”: Joss Whedon’s 2013 Wesleyan Commencement Speech.

Eesha Khare, 18-Year-Old, Invents Device That Charges Cell Phone Battery In Under 30 Seconds.

It is the one moment of genuine interest in Frank Marshall’s hilarious 1995 adaptation of Michael Crichton’s laughable 1980 novel. Marshall’s decision to replace Crichton’s white mercenary with a black character is the only time either book or film acknowledges the problem of working in a genre — the colonial adventure narrative — fundamentally constituted around imperialist-racist ideology. Admittedly, Marshall does nothing more, but even this very little sets his film apart from such epic racefails as the Indiana Jonesfilms and Peter Jackson’s inept attempt to not make a racist King Kong. But can such pulp fictions be redeemed? Or when revived are they destined merely to be, in Lavie Tidhar’s infamous description of steampunk, “fascism for nice people”? Mark Bould reviews Black Pulp.

During the decade 2000-10 in the USA, for the first time the number of poor people in major metropolitan suburbs surpassed the number in cities. Between 2000 and 2011, the poor population in suburbs grew by 64% — more than twice the rate of growth in cities (29%). By 2011, almost 16.4 million residents in suburbia lived below the poverty line, outstripping the poor population in cities by almost 3 million people. Confronting Suburban Poverty in America.

* RIP, Jack Vance.

* And it turns out all dogs don’t go to heaven after all.

The Second Great Depression

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The Boston Globe considers what a second Great Depression might look like.

By looking at what we know about how society and commerce would slow down, and how people respond, it’s possible to envision what we might face. Unlike the 1930s, when food and clothing were far more expensive, today we spend much of our money on healthcare, child care, and education, and we’d see uncomfortable changes in those parts of our lives. The lines wouldn’t be outside soup kitchens but at emergency rooms, and rather than itinerant farmers we could see waves of laid-off office workers leaving homes to foreclosure and heading for areas of the country where there’s more work – or just a relative with a free room over the garage. Already hollowed-out manufacturing cities could be all but deserted, and suburban neighborhoods left checkerboarded, with abandoned houses next to overcrowded ones.

And above all, a depression circa 2009 might be a less visible and more isolating experience. With the diminishing price of televisions and the proliferation of channels, it’s getting easier and easier to kill time alone, and free time is one thing a 21st-century depression would create in abundance. Instead of dusty farm families, the icon of a modern-day depression might be something as subtle as the flickering glow of millions of televisions glimpsed through living room windows, as the nation’s unemployed sit at home filling their days with the cheapest form of distraction available.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 25, 2008 at 7:05 pm

The Suburbs

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The question is not, as Ryan Avent asks while guest-blogging for Ezra Klein, whether high-energy prices will destroy the suburbs. It seems clear that they will, at least to some extent, and more importantly it seems clear that these energy realities exist in a context with other, perhaps more immediate trends that point in the same general direction: America’s cities are on the mend, and it’s the suburbs that now face decline.

The important question, then, is not whether all this will happen but how suburban America will react to the fact of re-urbanification, which will have dire financial consequences for those who have concentrated the bulk of their wealth in the prices of their suburban homes. To the extent that middle- and upper-class people, especially young people, increasingly choose to live in cities, prices will rise there and fall in the suburbs, which over time will essentially wipe out those people whose suburban residence is also their primary or sole investment.

These people will have every financial incentive to fight to keep the suburban lifestyle intact, no matter what the cost in money, energy, or sprawl. And they’ll vote, demanding pro-suburban incentives and policy counter to every consideration of sustainability or good sense.

This will be not only a geographic fight but a class and intergenerational one as well, and if you’ll allow me to make a Big Prediction for a moment I fully expect this to be one of the more highly contested divides in American politics as we face the end of cheap energy and the accordant, dramatic weakening of our automobile-centric culture.

UPDATE: There’s more of this sort of speculation at Freakonomics, Political Animal, and Matt Yglesias.

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August 13, 2008 at 4:02 am

The Back Nine

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With the [Undisclosed Location]quinox behind us, we move into the Back Nine of my period of extremely intense summer employment. Here are a few links to properly mark this monumental occasion:

* Deconstructing Barry: an English professor reads Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father at TNR.

* History’s most elaborate rick roll. Or was it this one at Shea Stadium?

* For centuries, in the closed-off and conservative society of rural northern Albania, swapping genders was considered a practical solution for a family with a shortage of men. Her father was killed in a blood feud, and there was no male heir. By custom, Ms. Keqi, now 78, took a vow of lifetime virginity. She lived as a man, the new patriarch, with all the swagger and trappings of male authority — including the obligation to avenge her father’s death.

* And once more, with feeling, the end of suburbia.

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June 26, 2008 at 11:19 am

‘Entropy Made Visible’

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‘Entropy made visible’: James Howard Kunstler talks about our suburban nightmare at TED 2008. Via the MeFi thread.

There are a lot of ways you can describe this. I like to call it “the national automobile slum.” You can call it “suburban sprawl.” I think it’s appropriate to call it “the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.” We can call it a “technosis externality clusterfuck.” And it’s a tremendous problem for us. The outstanding, the salient problem about this is that these are places that are not worth caring about.

Suburbia’s End

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At Windy Ridge, a recently built starter-home development seven miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, 81 of the community’s 132 small, vinyl-sided houses were in foreclosure as of late last year. Vandals have kicked in doors and stripped the copper wire from vacant houses; drug users and homeless people have furtively moved in. In December, after a stray bullet blasted through her son’s bedroom and into her own, Laurie Talbot, who’d moved to Windy Ridge from New York in 2005, told The Charlotte Observer, “I thought I’d bought a home in Pleasantville. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that stuff like this would happen.”

In the Franklin Reserve neighborhood of Elk Grove, California, south of Sacramento, the houses are nicer than those at Windy Ridge—many once sold for well over $500,000—but the phenomenon is the same. At the height of the boom, 10,000 new homes were built there in just four years. Now many are empty; renters of dubious character occupy others. Graffiti, broken windows, and other markers of decay have multiplied. Susan McDonald, president of the local residents’ association and an executive at a local bank, told the Associated Press, “There’s been gang activity. Things have really been changing, the last few years.”

In the first half of last year, residential burglaries rose by 35 percent and robberies by 58 percent in suburban Lee County, Florida, where one in four houses stands empty…

Suburbs: the new slums. See also.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 29, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Against Suburbs

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I’ve written before about the need for better civil engineering on the national scale in this country, to do whatever we can to reduce and reverse the tremendous damage caused by the short-sighted suburbification of America in the second half of the twentieth century. Via Ezra Klein comes an article at Worldchanging.com about how what we build influences how we live. One point the article could emphasize more—as Klein himself does in a follow-up post—is the extent to which desuburbification is not a tradeoff or a sacrifice but instead a return to a better way to live. Towards the end, though, it gets there:

Most arguments against land-use change presume that building compact communities is a trade-off; that investing in getting walkable, denser neighborhoods, we lose some or a lot of our affluence or quality of life. What if that’s not true, though? What if the gains actually far outweigh the costs not only in ecological and fiscal terms, but in lifestyle and prosperity terms as well? I think that’s the case.

I believe that green compact communities, smaller well-built homes, walkable streets and smart infrastructure can actually offer a far better quality of life than living in McMansion hintersprawl in purely material terms: more comfort, more security, more true prosperity. But even more to the point, I believe they offer all sorts of non-materialistic but extremely real benefits that suburbs cannot. Opponents of smart growth talk about sacrificing our way of life — but it’s not a sacrifice if what you get in exchange is superior.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 21, 2008 at 2:12 am