In this time of solemn reflection, and perhaps significantly more time to read than we might normally, one of the works I’ve turned to is a book I’ve long known about but never read. Thanks to Mrs. Green for remedying the latter, and to Ms. Jacobs for bringing the het-up light:
There is nothing economically or socially inevitable about either the decay of old cities or the fresh-minted decadence of the new unurban urbanization. On the contrary, no other aspect of our economy and society has been more purposefully manipulated for a full quarter of a century to achieve precisely what we are getting. Extraordinary governmental financial incentives have been required to achieve this degree of monotony, sterility, and vulgarity. Decades of preaching, writing and exhorting by experts have gone into convincing us and our legislators that mush like this must be good for us, as long as it comes bedded with grass.
Automobiles are often conveniently tagged as the villains responsible for the ills of cities and the disappointments and futilities of city planning. But the destructive effects of automobiles are much less a cause than a symptom of our incompetence at city building. Of course planners, including the highwaymen with fabulous sums of money and enormous power at their disposal, are at a loss to make cities and automobiles compatible with one another. They do not know what to do with automobile sin cities because they do not know how to plan for workable and viable cities anyhow – with or without automobiles.
That’s just from the introduction, but any two paragraphs pulled from the first 86 pages so far would be at least as insightful – originally published in 1958. Her majestic explanation of the importance of sidewalks to civilization is worth the fare alone.
Do yourself us all a favor and pick up those books you have kept around for a reason. Stay in, be well.
Image from the author’s kitchen table today.
Post title, with apologies to the late Mr. Silverstein.
Cassava root, corn, soybean, and hemp could re-make sustainable packaging and are all in fact proving to be promising feed stocks for new containers. Scientists are exploring, companies are investing, and new factories are cranking out product. And yet a major caveat remains, one what hints at the actual problem of the problem:
Containers made of NOT PLASTIC are more expensive, but they are better for the environment.
Seeing the environment on its own terms, do we do anything beneficial – do we help, do harm, are we ambivalent? It seems clear and simple that some among us might choose to help, to maybe even do the right thing.
Seeing our relative individual wealth on its own terms, it also seems rather obvious that we would only and ever choose to spend the least to get the most, consequences be damned. This is our actual problem.
The video at the link clearly lays out the plastics problem – especially the ‘tossed away minutes after use’ issue. But the selfish short-shortsightedness of this tendency requires a deliberate decision on our part, a habit of decision-making, really. Is it a difficult choice to use a more expensive, inferior product because it’s better for the earth? It’s a choice we don’t want to talk about – unless we’re complaining about the government. It’s also a choice we don’t want to make, definitely. But one we are making by not making all the same, which in turn makes everything else more difficult and more expensive, not to mention less fishy and more polluted.
So the worthwhile efforts of clever companies aside, there are far more options for replacing [your] plastic, and not all of them have to do with new plant-based bowls for your to-go salad.
The Afghan poppy crop could be repurposed away from illicit drug production, and towards manufacturing licit opioid analgesics to address unmet needs for pain palliation, particularly for diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer in the developing world—that is, illegal opium could be converted into legal pain medicine, solving two problems at once.
Are they saying that you could actually think about a problem differently and then do things differently to achieve a desired result? Instead of being a’scourge’, opium production in Afghanistan could be channeled into a legal, profitable trade that would reduce pain and suffering worldwide? Wha? Would this sort of change in thinking be open to other issues, or is this a one time offer? I think we should still take it.
Bonus question: What’s the drug war going to say about this? I’ll bet it will worry and won’t be happy.
Captain Obvious here with a report from the bridge: A connection has been spotted between this
In an example of Republican obstructionism rendered beautiful by its simplicity, the GOP yesterday killed a House bill that would increase funding for scientific research and math and science education by forcing Democrats to vote in favor of federal employees viewing pornography.
Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the ranking member of the House science committee, introduced amotion to recommit, a last-ditch effort to change a bill by sending it back to the committee with mandatory instructions.
In this case, Republicans included a provision that would bar the federal government from paying the salaries of employees who’ve been disciplined for viewing pornography at work.