This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

How to be grateful for our lane-closure signs

Posted by: James Lileks under Architecture, Technology Updated: December 27, 2013 - 12:26 PM

Let’s head over to the Children’s Section of the internet, and see what BuzzFeed has put up today. Why, it’s 10 Midwest Cities You Should Visit. A gold star for the bossy Should, but an even number for the list? Tsk. Anyhoo, let’s check the copy; number 9 is Springfield.

Um, hello Abraham Lincoln’s home. Get your history fix in Springfield by seeing this famous home while also enjoying the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Everything you ever wanted to know about Lincoln right at the tip of your fingers. Reflect on the knowledge and your trip in the Lincoln Memorial Garden afterwards. A great place for all ages.

If my 13 year old wrote that for a class assignment I’d make her start over. Here’s the entry on Madison:

Home of the great University of Wisconsin, Madison is absolutely beautiful. One of the most beautiful campuses in the midwest, UW is something to peek at.

Keep this in mind the next time someone advises “buzzfeeding” any project you’re working on. Probably easier than gawkifying it, though. Speaking of which: Pando unloads today. Look Who’s Gawking: Inside Nick Denton’s phony, hypocritical class war against tech workers

The article saves the bulk of its ire for the fellow who brought the world the world-ending tweet by Julia Sacco last week. Tell us how you really feel:

Biddle is not so much a normal human being as a grotesque hypocrite, employed by a huge, even more grotesquely hypocritical, media corporation. A corporation which thinks nothing of posting photographs of Trayvon Martin’s corpse on its front page and whose most senior editor believes media ethics to be “part of a process of trying to exclude the hoi polloi from the process of reporting.” And so, despite being in possession of a metric ton more smug, entitled privilege than every man, woman and nerd on the Google bus, Sam Faulkner Biddle once again perched in his steampunk SoHo office and puked out another post mocking the members of the “coddled, gurgling startup scene” for their “pronounced horror” when an “anti-Google protest turns slightly violent.”

Angry and bilious: enjoy! Or, if you want something lighter and more appropriate for your lifestyle, here’s a typical HuffPo headline: 4 Things Restaurant Chefs Wish They Could Tell You But obviously they can’t, or the headline would say “4 Things Chefs Are Glad They Can Tell You, Right Here.” So I won’t link, lest you be disappointed.

DCVotD World’s first VTOL van:

Lifeleak says he was hospitalized with non-lethal injuries. Full-screen it and check the left side for the immense flashing warning arrow. By which I mean “six 20Watt bulbs whose blinking pattern imparts not particular instruction.”

SHORT MOVIE Anyone who’s dealt with slimy camera salesmen of the East Coast variety will appreciate this film, surfaced today by Digg. The main problem is the title. Also the mother character. Also the idea of “canceling a trisection because of a fraudulent use of the credit card. Also, why does everything “gritty” and “urban” have to look like it takes place in the Matrix? Also criminals are really cool people. Let’s root for them at the end because they seem happy!

ARCHITORTURE Another day, another attempt to fix the surburbs. At least this writer nails the problem right out of the box:

With suburbs, architects gave adults just what they wanted: Affordable houses with lawns and garages, homes where children can be raised free from the threats of urban and natural life. By this measure, suburbs are a success—as long as you can stomach monotony. Suburban streets in Phoenix, Ariz. might as well be those in Alberta, Canada or Florida’s everglades.

There’s your problem. Someone in Alberta might look up and down the street and think “Good Lord, this could be Phoenix. My life is a lie.” Or not. I think the Alberta burbs are probably less inclined to adopt the adobe aesthetic and have lawns full of prickly plants that draw blood if you brush against them. But that’s a minor thing. Mostly souls are being crushed. Daily:

The monotony does more than crush souls. It takes a lot of energy to maintain a stubborn uniformity amid a range of natural environments. Green lawns in Arizona’s Sonoran desert sap limited reservoirs, and heat runs full-blast for most of the year in Wisconsin’s old wooden houses.

That last point is nonsense. Anyway, fewer souls will be crushed in the future, when “Green” houses lead to variegated designs:

Green houses are developed with their surroundings in mind, which means that green suburbs may one day vary dramatically from one part of the world to the next. Parents would need to explain to their children the irony in films like The ’Burbs, SubUrbia, and Heathers that mock the suppressed individuality of cookie-cutter neighborhoods.

“See, the reason the films are mocking the suppressed individuality, honey, is the filmmakers were overgrown smirky adolescents who had to find something wrong with other people to muffle their feelings of inferiority. It wasn’t really like that. It wasn’t really like that at all.”

Don’t get me wrong; more efficient houses are better, and the old cul-de-sac / winding streets model isn’t for everyone. The article has a prototype of the new suburban house, which looks like a folded-up mattress wearing a mirror. This is not what most people want, and the author knows that:

Suburbs were originally built to satisfy the demands of fleeing city-dwellers. Today, too, the market will dictate whether these sustainable houses become the future. Rashkin says the transformation will happen when homeowners learn how much money they’ll save on energy, water, and maintenance bills. But once they move in, he says the houses will also feel right on a visceral level. The angst of living in impersonal suburbs detached from their surroundings will dissipate.

As it stands today, no one buys a house that feels right on a visceral level. Why, it’s all you can do to master your revulsion.

The last suburban house I visited looked out on a great green open space that rolled to the edge of a forest. The morning light was strong and clear. The people lived in the suburb because they liked being far out from the city, where they felt more connected to the landscape. I should give them a call and tell them how angsty they should be feeling.

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