Links From the Show

Linkfest: China Retools Names of Traditional Dishes

China is revamping the names of traditional dishes in preparation for an influx of English-speaking visitors. Goodbye "husband-and-wife's lung slice," hello "beef and ox tripe in chili sauce."

It's the BPP's Ramble

How much do you make? It'd be no secret in Scandinavia / 50 office-speak phrases you love to hate / Seinfeld lawyers see humor, not defamation

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Sorry to be off-topic again...

I was listening to the piece on suburbs today with Jim Kunstler, and I think it suffered because the term suburb was never defined. I'm not being pedantic; I really couldn't tell exactly what problems we are trying to solve. What exactly typifies a suburb? Low-density housing? Lack of jobs? Lack of shopping? I live in Longmont Colorado which could be seen as either a suburb of Boulder or Denver. I don't think of it this way however because I work, shop, and six months out of the year, get my food locally. To me this makes Longmont a free-standing city even though it has aspects that could be considered suburbia including many single-family dwellings. Then again, New York City has a lot of single-family dwellings especially if you consider row-houses. I'm so confused.

I think I'm on board generally with what Jim was saying, but I can't be sure. This story could use a follow up either on the air on in the blog. Maybe Mr. Kunstler can clarify his points here.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 12:25 PM | 6-19-2008

Dave: as someone who spent a large chunk of his childhood in Longmont (ages 7-14, '77-'83, Elk Place just across from Clark Centennial Park), I would argue that Longmont is a free-standing city, but that, say, Niwot is a suburb.

I think there are as many different definitions of suburbs as there are people who talk about suburbs, frankly. My own personal definition focuses largely on low-density housing, which is less about single-family dwellings than it is about how far apart the houses are. I just played with the extreme close-up on Google Maps satellite view (which is freaky, let me tell you) and a ruler and determined that the two houses my family owned on Elk Place (which were right next door to each other) were a little less than 50 feet apart. I live in Boston now, in a neighborhood built around the turn of the last century that's roughly a 50/50 mix of row houses and detached houses -- even the detached homes are more like 20-25 feet from each other, outer wall to outer wall. So this part of Allston is about twice as dense as that part of Longmont, even though both neighborhoods are mostly single-family homes and not condos or apartments.

Also, remember that I lived directly across the street from Clark Centennial Park, which is what, about a quarter-mile square? To get to a park here in Allston, I have to walk across Comm Ave into Brookline, to a little tiny garden-style park that covers about a half-acre. Suburbs have WAY more open space than cities, even a city like Boston that's well known for its parks and greenspace.

Also, suburbs usually are zoned to keep out industrial use: strictly housing, retail, and office space. That's another reason why Longmont is a free-standing city -- it has industrial areas, even if many of them are no longer in use.

Sent by Stewart | 1:37 PM | 6-19-2008

I thought the guy was kind of wacko... Not because of his general principle about the end of a fossil-fuel economy, but because he jumps to too many conclusions. Natural gas is the only way to heat apartment and office buildings? Many use district heating, which can be powered by all sorts of fuels. Even in-building furnaces can use a variety of fuels.

Sent by Marc Naimark | 4:05 PM | 6-20-2008