Tag Archives: The Absurd

America's Planning Schools: 'Incest is Best' | via Planetizen

Who Teaches Planning?
by Thomas Sanchez, Planetizen, January 14, 2013

Here’s the recipe for ‘group think’ in urban planning. Images are from the Planetizen article (link below).

Except:

What role does the background of planning faculty, and the institutions from which they earned their degrees, have on the training of future planners? Tom Sanchez examines the profile of the nation’s planning faculty to help advance this discussion.

Where Planning Faculty Come From
The top ten schools produced almost half (46%) of all planning faculty (out of approximately 850 total faculty)… The top 20 schools produced nearly two-thirds of all planning faculty (63%).

Graphic1_0
Social Network of Planning Academics
Because the top 10 schools that produce planning faculty represent nearly half of all planning faculty, they also have extensive reach across accredited planning programs.  These schools currently have faculty in nearly all (about 80) planning programs.  UC Berkeley, for instance, has faculty in nearly half of all accredited planning programs…

Read the full article here: Who Teaches Planning? | Planetizen: The Urban Planning, Design, and Development Network.

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Dog Shits in Suburban Sprawl Hell, Property Values Rise 20%

A True Story about Shit

by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Today, I found myself in single-family suburban sprawl hell, somewhere in Northeast Florida, with my dog, Izzy. The reason is unimportant. However, being a dutiful dog, Izzy indicated she needed to go for a walk. (Note: She is 4 years old next month and the cutest dog with the sweetest disposition… but that’s beside the point). So, I hooked her to the leash and started to walk her through a neighborhood, which is the very definition of suburban sprawl. Yes, there was not any street inter-connectivity and we have to retrace our route into this neighborhood, giving us the “pleasure” of seeing the same Mega Mediterranean homes not once but twice. Of course, the homes are only Mega Mediterranean along the front yard facades. Along the side yards, the true nature of the homes as basic wood frame construction with really cheap siding, sitting on 1/4 acre lots, is obvious. Most of the lawns were neatly manicured with St. Augustine grass (by the way, not really a grass… it’s a weed but whatever), as one might expect. In spending about 20 minutes in this neighborhood, I passed about a half of dozen people at 6:00 pm in the evening. None of these people said hello.

In fact, only one person spoke to me. After Izzy had done ‘her business’ (meaning she pooped) in a front yard and I was bending down with my doggy poop bag to pick it up, a woman came rushing out of her house to tell me, “I don’t like dogs pooping in my yard.” I looked at her incredulously and replied, “I’m picking it up.” She said (and I’m not kidding), “I know but I spent a lot on money on this yard and I don’t want it messed up by dogs pooping in it.” As you might expect, I stared in shock at this woman like she was a crazy person. She did not make her political position on urine clear to me. I pointed out, “it’s fertilizer.” She then added, “I know but I have dogs too and I don’t let them poop in my yard.” I’m not sure but this may have been a ‘suburban code’, meaning ‘I make sure my dogs poop in the neighbors’ yards.’ I replied, “Call the police, I’m sure it must be a crime,” turned around and walked back the way we came out of the neighborhood, all the while dutifully carrying my doggy poop bag and carefully navigating through multiple piles of dog shit in the neighborhood common areas. Needless to say, Izzy and I will never be walking in that neighborhood again (not that it was ever likely anyway).

My normal experience in a historic, traditional neighborhood has always been when Izzy poops in someone’s yard, I dutifully pick it up and, if it is noticed, the homeowners usually say, “thank you.” Suburban sprawl breeds intolerance of the stranger and the unfamiliar… and, apparently, acute cases of coprophobia (an irrational fear of feces).

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Gobsmacked by Those Crazy Germans | The ‘Tropical Islands’ Resort In Germany | Business Insider

Concrete Blonde sent a link to this Business Insider photographic essay under the subject header “Porn for Architects and Urban Planners.” Thank goodness a picture is worth a thousand words because 15,000 words seem woefully inadequate to explain what you can see in 15 photographs. Business Insider does not mention the designer or owner but we’re guessing Willy Wonka and Jerry Jones, respectively.

Excerpt from article:

“South of Berlin, a giant airplane hangar on a former Soviet airbase has been transformed into a sunny, sandy resort. Known as the Tropical Islands, the space is 1,181 feet long, 689 feet wide, and 351 feet tall. To put that in perspective, eight football fields and the Statue of Liberty could fit inside. The resort has been open since 2004, and attracts around 1 million visitors each year…. Despite Germany’s chilly winters, the temperature inside stays at a balmy 78 degrees. There are 13 different bars and restaurants, miniature golf, flamingos, and the biggest spa in Europe at just under 33,000 square feet.”

See more photographs here: The ‘Tropical Islands’ Resort In Germany – Business Insider

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The Insidious Landscaping-Agricultural Complex

The Insidious Landscaping-Agricultural Complex
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning “against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex” in his farewell address of January 17, 1961 is well-known. What is less well-known is this echoed a similar warning President Eisenhower gave in a speech to the Akron Woman’s City Club in Ohio one year earlier, in which he railed against “the undue influence of the emerging landscaping-agricultural complex in American suburbia.” Many have discounted this lesser-known warning due to suspicions that President Eisenhower might have been suffering from an acute case of panophobia (fear of everything) in the last year of his presidency.

However, as we gaze across Suburbia today, we have reason to believe that President Eisenhower’s warning about the emerging Landscaping-Agricultural Complex was not without merit. In suburban sprawl hell, somewhere in Northeast Florida, mindless minions in service to the orthodoxy of the Landscaping-Agricultural Complex are mulching street signs, fire hydrants, overflow pipes, and electrical transformers (see above). Why?

Is there value in moisture retention for a road sign (upper left)? Are the landscapers nurturing the ‘growth’ of this sign to a more adult height? Or perhaps additional moisture will enable the speed limit to grow above its current 15 MPH level? Is this what occurred with the overflow pipe (lower left)? Was it originally only six inches in height and, over time, the additional moisture retention of mulching around the pipe enabled its growth an imposing height of two feet? Fire hydrants certainly require water in order to operate (upper right) but I’m pretty sure mulching has nothing to do with how they get water. Finally, why mulch around an electrical transformer (lower right)? It sits on a concrete pad, which is already well-hidden by the grass. Surely this was the point of painting them green in the first place, so they would be less noticeable. Personally, I didn’t even know they existed until they mulched around the base (read: sarcasm).

The only way I can rationalize this attribute of ‘mulching everything’ is the Landscaping-Agricultural Complex is artificially inflating the per square footage or volumetric costs of the amount of mulch used in this suburban community. Either that, or I am just not smart enough to understand the functional benefits of moisture retention in mulching inanimate objects.

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McMansions Return: Big Houses Come Back | Yahoo! Finance

McMansions Return: Big Houses Come Back – Yahoo! Finance.

In other news today, the Hershey Company released the startling results of a survey that indicates 98% of children want candy for every meal on an everyday basis. This appears to confirm the findings of the most recent surveys by the American Dental Association and Halloween Industry Association (yes, it really does exist) that asked similar questions of American children. However, it does seem to contradict the findings of a recent survey by the International Association of Ice Cream Distributors & Vendors that suggested 96% of American children actually want ice cream for every meal. A spokesman for the American Dental Association was kind enough to take time away from a vacation on his yacht off the coast of Barbados to comment, “We don’t see how the results of these different surveys about what American children want to be provided for their daily nutrient requirements can be viewed as in conflict with one another in any feasible manner.”

There are so many depressing aspects of this story and the media coverage that the McMansion part only begins to scratch the surface of what is wrong with this picture.

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