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Monday, October 26, 2015


I despise clickbait. By which I mean those things that show up unbidden in your Facebook feed that lead to tedious, ad-centric time wasters. I despise them, because every once in a while I take the bait.

This was a case in point, a list of cities that almost were. The amount of information in the actual clickbait site was frustratingly sparse, and each image had to be clicked three times, first to advance to the image, then to a paragraph of explanation (that didn't explain much) then to another paragraph summing up the first paragraph slightly more succinctly, providing no new information.

So I'd started clicking as rapidly as possible through the cities and then using Wikipedia to find something out about them for real. They were pretty interesting, Buckminster Fuller's floating Triton City or flying Cloud Nine for instance. But the one that grabbed me was Ebenezer Howard's Garden City. Not because of the garden thing, but because of things that jumped out at me on the map.

He condenses people into a really small area to maximize land use, I can dig it. He has canals through it, of course you need water for all this stuff. But the areas he's laid aside, he leaves an equal area for 'large farms' as he does for 'insane asylum.' Another equal area for a 'home for inebriates.' Epileptics and waifs have to share their lot with forests and reservoirs, so I guess he knew a lot of crazies and drunks. I also note that while Garden City is supposed to be slumless and smokeless, it abounds with reservoirs and quarries.

Still Garden City beats the hell out of Fordlandia, which the car company actually started in an effort to get their tires cheaper. I guess the evils of VW cheating on their diesel cars (which are still cleaner than a semi I'm pretty sure), compared to a company town where you're not allowed to have a drink, smoke, or woman in your home. Talk about wage slavery.

The problem with cities planned by a visionary is the same problem with armed revolutions planned by visionaries. They all figure they can save the world if everyone will just quit being themselves and start being a clone of the visionary/revolutionary. That's the fluke that made the American Revolution work from a standpoint that unlike most revolutions it didn't replace a shitty government with a shittier one. The Founding Fathers planned a come-as-you-are party, tried (imperfectly) to come up with a system that would work with actual people instead of trying to make us all be Mini-Me to Jefferson or Hamilton.

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