06 October 2008

Freakonomics in Suburbia

An interesting article on the future of suburbia from the New York Times.

It looks like it is front-loaded with the more radical, and humorous, commentary, then gets down to the more pragmatic analysis.

I remember being at a talk given by James Howard Kunstler once (who gets first rant in the article) as part of a Ph.D colloquium series. I found it interesting because many people seemed downright offended that he even had a right to make the claims that he did when he didn't have a degree in the topic. Yes, he was, as usual, talking about suburban form. No, the program was not in any way, shape or form and urban design program. Yes, the program prided itself on community outreach and community activism and participation. Apparently, that had to be qualified as obedient community participation.

I don't remember the outcome of someone making this protest, just at my being offended at people who claim to respect indigenous knowledge getting bent out of shape when actually faced with it. Apparently, indigenous knowledge is something to be used by authorities to further professional knowledge, but the gods forbid that it should become anything close to professional knowledge without their sanction.

This is probably why I like Kunstler's ideas so much. I think some of them border on nut job (to be fair, so do some of mine), but there are many kernels of inconvenient truth there that many of us don't want to have to face.

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