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I’ve been reading a bit about zoning lately, this article is a neat summation of one of my concerns about suburbs in the United States: stupid zoning laws. Author “simval84” writes a blog called “Urban kchoze”, here’s a post about Japanese zoning:


Potato Fields

The ex-potato field felt empty but not desolate—lot stakes, light posts, and the bafflingly windy streets of modern suburbia were all in place. Ours was the second house in Brighton’s Landing, a development in what would soon become one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. I knew none of this context, nor would it have refined my picture of my place in the world—like any child, my life was defined by low walls and narrow vistas. But I did know we were moving, here, to this new house. I gazed up into the vaulted entryway, looked down at the unstained ornaments for the front window. My memories of this construction phase are spotty, but I know we visited regularly during dim fall evenings. I remember little from the days we moved, but the vast expanse of fresh carpet lodged in my brain. Perhaps because I was six years old and still close the ground. That was 1991, over 20 years ago.


Giant furniture

Loved this quote from a NYTimes article “Furniture - The Big Get Bigger”:

McMansions, which still populate the suburbs like domestic mastodons.


Kunstler on Suburbia

This great talk, in which James H Kunstler dissects suburbia, articulates an important problem. We’ve built “places that aren’t worth caring about” that are only accessible via giant highways powered by cars running on temporarily cheap oil. So, when you take the long view (which isn’t very long at this point), you’ll find that suburbs can’t continue as they are. People do not thrive in the isolation of suburbs:


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Dark Coffee and Taste

Made in USA, by Paul Graham. His point: we make things fast, other countries make things well. These two positions both have advantages, depending entirely upon the industry.

Cars aren’t the worst thing we make in America. Where the just-do-it model fails most dramatically is in our cities— or rather, exurbs. If real estate developers operated on a large enough scale, if they built whole towns, market forces would compel them to build towns that didn’t suck. But they only build a couple office buildings or suburban streets at a time, and the result is so depressing that the inhabitants consider it a great treat to fly to Europe and spend a couple weeks living what is, for people there, just everyday life.



I love something unsustainable. It’s damaging, unrealistic, divorced from reality, and yet I love it all the same. The multitude of indisputable facts, which should corrode my fondness for the object of my love, still fail to tarnish the image in my mind. I’m subject to the delusion of addiction, I suppose.