January 28, 2015

To restore humanizing architecture, end the transplant phenomenon

A comment that I left at this post on "How to Create a Beautiful City" over at Uncouth Reflections:

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The main source of awful public spaces is sociological and demographic rather than technological or artistic — the transplant phenomenon.

When you are born in a place, live there your whole life, will raise any children you have in that place, and your ancestors stretch back into the past in that place, you feel a level of respect for its natural and built environment. They are not completely inviolable, but altering them willy-nilly is taboo.

It is part of you and you are part of it. You would no more alter its substance and appearance than you would your own — some cosmetic things here and there, maybe a knee replacement if your original one gets too banged up, but never anything major and frivolous like a sex change operation.

When a place draws most of its population from transplants, or people whose roots go back no further than a single generation, its features are not treated as sacred. They’re just neat things that earlier waves of transplants found it fit to build in their day, but which we might not find so neat in our day, and may very well have to erase and replace to suit the living rather than the dead (those two being alien to each other when transplant-ism is the norm).

That’s the basic weakness — not feeling that the natural and built environment are sacred. It lets you treat the whole city like one great big Lego bucket or dollhouse for playing around with, to dress it up in one artificial identity or another.

If you’re lucky, the prevailing fashions will give the city Art Deco rather than the International Style or the International Style: The Sequel. But trying to analyze the differences at the technical level, and propose policies that could steer architecture back toward good ol’ Art Deco, is missing the big picture — that the constant demographic churning makes it impossible to hold something in place. You are reduced to trying to argue for why Art Deco should make a comeback in the fashion cycle, why the neo-Mies look is like so tired by 2015.

That’s why rural towns tend not to be so afflicted by all the things that trad architecture folks decry. They are not being constantly swamped by wave after wave of transplants bringing their own outside ideas and inclinations about what would make for a totally awesome city, as though it were wet clay rather than a living organism.

And that’s why some cities show greater levels of affliction than other cities. As much as New York transplants may always be complaining about “there goes the neighborhood,” the city and its population is deeper rooted than a place like Houston or Phoenix.

How do you keep the transplant invasion at bay? The trick is to not host the institutions that draw status-strivers — globally competitive industries (Wall Street, Hollywood), globally competitive cultural institutions (Harvard, Sundance Film Festival), and so on and so forth.

Trad architecture misses these larger points because most of the critics are striving transplants themselves. They want to have their competitive career and the wealth and creature comforts it affords, while preserving their adopted city’s traditional character. But the two are incompatible. You can choose one end of the trade-off spectrum or the other.

It would be best for the return of traditional, human-scale places to discourage the transplant phenomenon, to remind people that they’ll feel more connected to their place if they grew up there and haven’t seen it change radically. That creates a deeper and more enduring sense of belonging than shopping around for a city and tweaking its skin, as though you were purchasing a customized costume for a masquerade ball.

44 comments:

  1. Do you have the link to that urban planner/archtitect who bemoans modern architecture and argues very persuasively that human-scale architecture is the best?

    You should have a blog roll too.

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  2. Germany has been going through an interesting phase architecturally since the war that is related to this post. In essence, most Germany cities have been or are in the process of being rebuilt to reflect what they looked like before the Bombenkrieg. For instance, Wuerzburg, Nuernberg, Munich and Goettingen have been nearly been rebuilt in the old style. Frankfurt, Dresden, and Berlin are currently going through some phase of complete restoration of their destroyed Innenstaedte.

    They do this because most of the inhabitants feel like an important piece of their culture has been lost. That Frankfurt does not feel like the 1,000-year-old Freistadt with an ugly ass Old Town.

    Contrast this with America: can you ever imagine Americans wanting to rebuild a destroyed city? They'd just say fuck it and rebuild everything in whatever style was in vogue.

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  3. Long ago I read a cyberpunk SF novel that featured a future U.S. that was bifurcated into two different kinds of areas. One group of areas were called FEZ's, which meant free enterprise zones. The other areas, mostly rural, were called ARC's, which meant areas of restrictive control. The FEZ's were intended for the career and technology oriented cosmopolitan types. The ARC's were intended for the traditionalist types. Sort of analogous to the red/blue divide we currently have in the U.S. This kind of legal bifurcation always seemed more sensible to me than what we have now (where we try to make everything the same for all people).

    Rooted communities are nice. But they don't do much for those of us with aspirations. People with aspirations need something different. I agree with you that aspirational types and non-aspirational types need different kinds of communities.

    You're not a transplant type. I am. Don't you think the best system is a meta-system where we can each go our separate ways to live whatever lives we want without stepping on each others' toes?

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  4. That system only values the individual, so no I don't think that's best. Your decisions affect others, not just here and now, but the things that earlier generations built and had wishes about maintaining, and future generations that will inherit the outcome of our decisions.

    If anyone is free to leave their native community and go wherever else they want, then we will deliver a rootless landscape to future generations. Most of them won't want that, but rather a connected landscape, so we've imposed huge costs on their quality of living for hedonistic individual benefits to "ourselves" (the transplants). It's even worse when you consider that they aren't here to defend themselves against our corrosive decisions.

    It's like running up a debt burden and passing the buck onto future generations. Transplants are borrowing cohesion today that they will not be paying back -- transplants do not contribute back to the cohesion that made their playground cities possible when they were built by earlier, less self-focused generations.

    They're not so different from Mexicans who show up in American ER's, enjoy the benefits of what others built, and then head on back to their own neck of the woods without paying back.

    I'm talking about paying back in cohesion, not in dollars. Cohesion is made rather than purchased.

    Transplants did not build the cities that they descend upon. Yet they feel entitled to mutate them however they feel like, all because they pay rent and taxes. BFD. It took more than rent to landlords and taxes to the state to build New York, Seattle, et al. The people who *did* build those cities ought to have their wishes respected, even though they're dead, akin to honoring the terms of an inheritance.

    And you can bet those folks would rather there still be affordable rents by keeping demand down, by not allowing any old person to move into the city who wants to. And to keep a fair variety of stores on the streets, rather than everything turned into a doggie yoga spa.

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  5. Those are the externalities to others across time. What about others here and now?

    If a transplant leaves their native community, its cohesion frays a little. When a whole bunch leave, it becomes torn apart.

    Only if their new community would benefit immensely should that person be allowed to move. Most people are not that influential -- in a beneficial way -- as transplants. They're just insecure strivers who think they're destined for greatness, only to realize how ordinary they are when they meet all the other brainy, workaholic strivers in transplant central.

    And others are highly influential, but in a destructive way -- those who leave to work on Wall Street these days, or for a lobbying group in DC. If they stayed put, everyone would be better off (minus themselves and the elite firms they enrich).

    It's not just cohesion that suffers. When the smart, hardworking people leave, there's a brain drain that causes a positive feedback loop toward oblivion. And all for what benefit? So that the transplants can earn more money and status? Bullcrap.

    Even when transplant-ism was low, like during the Great Compression, there were still some who moved around. That's fine, as long as it isn't too many of them. Today there's way too much. It's the ones who will make a large net positive difference, plus orders of magnitude more who cannot, but whose egos won't let them admit that and stay put.

    The flux, chaos, and wasteful competitiveness, as well as the brain drain left in the wake of unabated transplant-ism are too much to allow it to continue.

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  6. "Do you have the link to that urban planner/archtitect who bemoans modern architecture and argues very persuasively that human-scale architecture is the best?"

    Which one? That sounds like quite a few of them.

    "You should have a blog roll too."

    I used to, but then I figured out that most readers already knew the places I linked to, and had probably come here first from one of those other sites.

    "can you ever imagine Americans wanting to rebuild a destroyed city? They'd just say fuck it and rebuild everything in whatever style was in vogue."

    There was a big push for restoration and preservation of historic places starting in the '70s, perhaps not coincidentally when large-scale re-shaping began to, er, take shape.

    It'll be interesting to see what future-Detroit does to rebuild or replace old-Detroit. Not many other cities have been so thoroughly annihilated.

    My hunch is that cities and towns in the eastern half of the country might decide to rebuild what used to be there, of course once society leaves the status-striving phase and enters the accommodating phase of the striving-and-inequality cycle. There's simply a richer past to rebuild where the population has been settled for longer.

    There will be some reincarnation of the Arts and Crafts movement as well, just like the last time around.

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  7. "There was a big push for restoration and preservation of historic places starting in the '70s, perhaps not coincidentally when large-scale re-shaping began to, er, take shape."

    You're right, at least in NYC the Landmarks Preservation Council (LPC) came in existence after developers razed the old Penn Station and were about to knock down Grand Central Terminal. Nowadays, most of the historic buildings in NYC are under some sort of landmark status.

    "My hunch is that cities and towns in the eastern half of the country might decide to rebuild what used to be there."

    I'm less hopeful. Yeah, there was a push back in the 70s to preserve the most important neighborhoods and buildings before they were lost, but to actually rebuild them like the Germans have? I can't see natives getting behind a taxpayer initiative to rebuild a city. I think Americans are too cheap and just don't care enough about the past and tradition.

    "It'll be interesting to see what future-Detroit does to rebuild or replace old-Detroit. Not many other cities have been so thoroughly annihilated."

    I think the prettiest parts will be preserved (hopefully the train station as well), but Detroit will never become again what it once was. Air conditioning, seamless communication across the country, and air travel will ensure that more people will live in the warmer Sun Belt, Rocky Mountains, or larger coastal cities for the foreseeable future.

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  8. If anyone is free to leave their native community and go wherever else they want, then we will deliver a rootless landscape to future generations.

    This concern means nothing to me. I despise rootedness and want nothing to do with it.

    If a transplant leaves their native community, its cohesion frays a little. When a whole bunch leave, it becomes torn apart.

    When the smart, hardworking people leave, there's a brain drain that causes a positive feedback loop toward oblivion.

    You don't think that smart, competent people have a right to pursue their own dreams and goals independent of others? Since when do the less capable have any kind of claim on the more capable?

    If you want the smart, hard-working people to stay, you have to make it attractive for them to stay. You need to create the same opportunities at home that these people would otherwise seek elsewhere. One idea is to make more venture capital available in these areas of the country. Another is to increase online learning. If these communities you talk about are dying, clearly they need new industries to come in and revitalize them. The infrastructure and resources necessary for such revitalization must be created. Things should be made easier for smart, competent people to start new businesses and create new industries in these kind of places. Any community that does not implement these actions can never expect any kind of revitalization.

    Other ideas include legalizing polygamy and, perhaps, bringing back slavery, particularly sex slaves. Long-term stability seems to be your concern here. There have been many examples of long-term stable slave-owning societies in history. If you want smart, intelligent people to remain with the others, they must be allowed complete domination and control over these other people, including control over their reproduction.

    You seem to both want and to eat your cake. You want intelligent, competent people to forgo opportunities elsewhere in order to remain in whatever place they happened to be born in. Yet, at the same time, you don't seem to show much interest in bring in new industries and opportunities to these kind of places that would actually make it more attractive for these people to remain. You can't have it both ways.

    in one sense, you are on to something. Information technology and the rise of a new industrial revolution based on 3-D printing and other advanced techniques will lead to a decentralization of manufacturing and technology. It empowers small groups to do what only large corporations and governments could do in the past. This technological revolution can definitely be brought to the communities that you mention here. This would, in turn, make it more attractive for the best and the brightest to remain and thus economically revitalize these communities.

    Yet, for some strange reason, you seem not interested in bringing such a technology revolution to these dying communities.

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  9. One other factor you don't mention is that often the smart and hard-working who leave their hometowns often return 20 years later to either buy existing or start new businesses in their hometowns. I know a guy who left where a grew up, got his MBA, and had a good career, in various places in the U.S. Later, he returned and bought the Toyota dealership as well as several other small businesses. You can definitely say he is a major influence in the community. However, he would not have had the financial means to do what he did had he never left in the first place.

    One way to revitalize old communities is to make it easy and attractive for people who left to return. Again, one method is to start state or regional level venture funds and the like.

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  11. This concern means nothing to me. I despise rootedness and want nothing to do with it.

    Stopped reading there.

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  12. Often, people come from places that are not good places to live. If they grew up in a crummy area or came from a terrible family, leaving and finding greener pastures elsewhere is the best options. If these small, long-settled places were really worthwhile, people wouldn't be leaving them behind in the first place.

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  13. "Only if their new community would benefit immensely should that person be allowed to move."

    Allowed to move. Are you advocating that communities should be prisons to keep people from leaving? During the Cold War, the Communist bloc countries did that. All it did was keep the powers that be in power and destroy any incentive to make their countries worthwhile.

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  14. Needless to say, I disagree with you guys. I believe transplant type people are vastly superior in every respect than non-transplant people. Our goals are usually higher than others and we are more often successful at accomplishing them than others. Also, consider that American itself is a country of transplants (unless you are Native American) and that it is the pioneering spirit of such transplants that made the U.S. into the most successful nation on the planet. Everyone in this blog owes their very life and well-being to the productive accomplishments of transplant people. You need to show more respect.

    All technological developments are the product of transplant people, as are most successful business start-ups. Consider the silicon valley phenomenon.

    This concept of cohesion debt is nonsensical. No body "borrows" cohesion. Everyone is free to create their own cohesion with whomever they choose to associate with. Cohesion, like anything else of value, is a self-created concept.

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  15. "Allowed to move. Are you advocating that communities should be prisons to keep people from leaving?"

    Are you a braindead hysteric?

    (Hint: yes)

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  16. I also believe this obsession with "rootedness" on your part reflects an underlying psychological weakness. Psychologically strong people have no need for such a thing. They are quite capable of creating their own lives and happiness on the fly. Having lived in many places (and two continents), I can assure you of the reality of this truth.

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  17. "I also believe this obsession with "rootedness" on your part reflects an underlying psychological weakness. Psychologically strong people have no need for such a thing."

    BEEP BOOP COMMUNAL CONTINUITY DOES NOT COMPUTE HUMAN

    "Having lived in many places (and two continents)"

    Wild guess -- somewhere in East Asia. You should have lived in Barcelona like I did for a year or so. It would have taught you what normal human beings want and need. And highlighted how much more deprived we Americans are of a social network that has grown organically, uninterrupted since childhood. Not to mention a connection to a place and its features that isn't destabilized every month by new developments clearing away what is old and sacred.

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  18. "If they grew up in a crummy area or came from a terrible family, leaving and finding greener pastures elsewhere is the best options."

    Most of that is post-hoc rationalization of their striver impulses.

    How crummy is crummy? The metro area around Wheeling, W.Va. used to be a nice mid-sized, sustainable community, with plenty of jobs. There just weren't many high-status jobs, and no globally competitive institutions hosted there, so the Me Generation decided to abandon ship.

    Later, laissez-faire policies sent many of the decent jobs overseas and closed down the productive industries. But that was an after-effect. First, strivers felt called toward a higher destiny than life in the Ohio Valley, and left it behind. Then, with fewer and fewer folks interested in middle-class industrial jobs, the business leaders sensed that there wouldn't be that big of a backlash if they sent production overseas where it's cheaper.

    When I use the term "transplant," I'm using it at the regional scale. I don't count you as a transplant if you were born and raised in Wheeling, and then move to Pittsburgh to work full time and raise your family. I'm using it in a way that gets at the stabilization vs. destabilization of communities. If someone from Wheeling moves to Pittsburgh, there's little to no impact on Pittsburgh, although the brain drain problem may still affect Wheeling if out-migration is biased toward smarter and harder-working people.

    In this context, there are no areas that are so crummy that you have to leave for an entirely unfamiliar regional culture. Maybe you move from some crappy part of Kentucky to a better part of Kentucky, or to Cincinnati, or Nashville -- you don't have to flee all the way to Portland or L.A. like some uppity drama queen.

    That said, transplant-ism does apply at smaller scales too, and can uproot healthy rural and small-time suburban places, as they head for nearby urban centers and their bloated ring of suburbs. This level of transplanting introduces urban anomie, but it doesn't throw a whole bunch of people with differing norms and expectations together. It's not a Tower of Babel.

    This applies to what you say about coming from terrible families. How terrible is terrible? Meaning they beat and molested you? Or that they're blue-collar / lower-middle class, and embarrassing for you to be around, let alone for your social circle to be aware of?

    If you really do come from a violent and destructive family, you don't need to move to the city, let alone to an entirely unfamiliar city somewhere far away. That's typical cult behavior -- come from an abusive home, sever all roots (not just to family but to place and friends), and cast your lot with something exotic and charismatic. Move to a different nearby small town or suburb.

    "If these small, long-settled places were really worthwhile, people wouldn't be leaving them behind in the first place."

    They're worthwhile at a communal level. It's individual vanity and greed that leave them depopulated. If future generations will be as airheadedly grasping at status as ours is, then you're right, they won't mind living in a Blade Runner shithole future either.

    But that's selling them short. Normal needs include belonging to a tightly knit social circle that has known each other for years and decades, and to a larger community. We are in a degenerate, decadent, abnormal phase of a historical cycle, so we can bet that future generations *won't* want to live as we are. They will be the generations who want to turn things around.

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  19. "I believe transplant type people are vastly superior in every respect than non-transplant people."

    We scored higher on the SAT, and we make more money, so it doesn't matter if we're emotionally screwed up, spiritually empty, and angrily rejecting our duties to anything or anyone other than ourselves.

    In typical airhead fashion, you're trying to make this into a status contest, WHO'S LEVELED UP THEIR STATS MORE US OR THEM? Rather than what their effect on the rest of the world is.

    You keep droning on about superior accomplishments, but reminder: nobody will remember your name when you're dead. Nobody knows your name now either, or else you'd be using it to score extra status points. Plenty of folks on the paleo-right, including me, would out-score you on an IQ test, and have more to show in intellectually creative results than an off-and-on series of internet comments gushing over a libertarian sci-fi utopia.

    "Also, consider that American itself is a country of transplants (unless you are Native American) and that it is the pioneering spirit of such transplants that made the U.S. into the most successful nation on the planet."

    American exceptionalism owes not to its founding by immigrants, but to the more or less empty continent that we found / conquered, and the lack of formidable threats anywhere in our hemisphere. We steam-rolled over everything here because it was not genetically or culturally co-adapted to us, as would have been the case if the founding settlers had transplanted to an existing part of already-populated Europe.

    "Everyone in this blog owes their very life and well-being to the productive accomplishments of transplant people. You need to show more respect."

    America has in fact accomplished way less than the UK over the past 400 years. Maybe you were absent in history class when they went over the Industrial Revolution. And LOL at the appeal to show more respect to our founding stock by reshaping their inheritance however we please, whenever we please.

    "All technological developments are the product of transplant people, as are most successful business start-ups. Consider the silicon valley phenomenon."

    Consider William Shockley, moron. He was raised in Palo Alto since he was a toddler. And Silicon Valley flourished during a period of *decreased* transplant-ism, the Great Compression. Transistors, computers, programming languages, cell phones, etc. What has the soaring transplant population of the Bay Area given us in the past 30 years? Google? What an utter joke of a comparison.

    Probably the last major invention of any worth was the personal computer. All three major players from its birth through its mainstream adoption are NOT transplants -- Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were born and raised in the Bay Area, and Bill Gates was born and raised in Seattle.

    But how can the personal computer and the Windows OS compare to titanic start-up crap like Google, Facebook, and Twitter?

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  20. In any case, the point remains that the vast majority of transplants are not start-up whiz kids, but over-educated strivers who think they have something to offer the world (they don't), and who feel called toward a date with destiny just because they're 2 S.D. above the mean for IQ.

    They frame their transplant living as the necessary liberation of their creative potential, but back on planet Earth their only brush with greatness was reading about John Galt.

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  21. To me, regional loyalty is the key The beauty of regional loyalty is that, in most cultural regions in the country(as measured by what dialect or accent people speak), there's usually a diversity of environments that can accomodate different occupations or personalities.

    For instance, in the Philly area, you have the city, the suburbs, farm country in the south part of Jersey, the shore(which itself is diverse, with more family-oriented Ocean City and more partying Wildwood), etc.

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  22. Thinking more about the success of Silicon Valley -- back when it was successful, anyway -- only proves the point about waves of transplants hindering the founding, elaboration, and maintenance of a healthy culture or industry.

    The relevant comparison is not Silicon Valley vs. random rural road in flyover country. It's Silicon Valley vs. Albuquerque metro.

    The Establishment tried to make Albuquerque into the original Silicon Valley, with Los Alamos, Sandia, U of NM, etc. But New Mexico is one of the most rootless places in the country -- perfect for a clueless Randian to set up their utopia and watch it crumble in less than a few generations.

    Out west, California has historically been the most rooted. Once folks got there, they didn't feel like leaving. The exact opposite of New Mexico.

    Granted, California has higher transplant rates than places back east, but it was historically the most stable region out west.

    That allowed the pioneers in Silicon Valley to hit the ground running, with all sorts of institutions already in place, vs. barren nothing-ness in the Wild Wild West of New Mexico. That also meant that California had a large population of natives to draw from, who would have belonged to the larger cohesive California culture (or at least northern Californian culture). They didn't need to fly in professionals and experts from the four corners of the nation, with little cultural bonds between them, like New Mexico did.

    Despite all the Establishment influence and funding thrown into it, the Albuquerque project would never touch Silicon Valley, with its native Californian people and institutions.

    Worse, Albuquerque metro is part of a larger region that includes the Las Vegas metro -- the southern Southwest. You like transplant culture? Head down to Las Vegas. For almost its entire history, the residents in the state of Nevada are only like 10-20% likely to have been born there. It is a sink-hole of cohesion and continuity. Every generation comes from somewhere else.

    Is it any wonder that their main cultural contribution to the region, nation, and world has been the commercialization of vice?

    Again, you think California looks fucked, head down to Vegas. It's even more rootless, so you ought to flourish creatively much better down there.

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  23. "For instance, in the Philly area, you have the city, the suburbs, farm country in the south part of Jersey, the shore(which itself is diverse, with more family-oriented Ocean City and more partying Wildwood), etc."

    Out of curiosity, how far west does regional solidarity go among Philly metro folks (natives, not transplants)? I know probably not all the way out to the capital of Appalachia, but lots of the middle part of the state is Appalachian too.

    Is it like New York, where everything above Westchester County is "upstate"?

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  24. The metro area around Wheeling, W.Va. used to be a nice mid-sized, sustainable community, with plenty of jobs. There just weren't many high-status jobs, and no globally competitive institutions hosted there, so the Me Generation decided to abandon ship.

    Suffice to say that there's been criminally little attention paid to the knifing in the back of the American worker.

    Liberal Boomers have largely focused on highly fashionable "exotic" topics related to race, gender, and environmentalism with only a token concern for the working class. And that "concern" is often seen thru a PC lense which renders any effort to help valuable (read: white) native born workers worthless. Wouldn't want to be seen as being too sympathetic to Bob so lets feign admiration for Jose and Tyrone.

    "Conservative" Boomers in some ways have been even more despicable, breathlessly cheering on the Titans of industry, even the most blatantly parasitic pawn scum running the FIRE racket. Rugged maverick will and success seeking made America great, if things don't work out don't be such a poor sport and try not to dwell too much on what's inflicted on those who didn't have the savvy (or the psychopathy) to out compete the competition.

    Nowadays with such autism afflicting the populace many people don't even seem to be consciously aware of the plight of so many. To the extent that problems are recognized at all, the effects of these problems are seen as something affecting ME that I need to overcome. Remember the good ole days when your friends, neighbors, church acquaintances. even at times your boss or local politician had your back? With the growing tide of post 1970 individualism this camaraderie and honorable reciprocity has slowly withered away to the point that Millennials do not even know that society ever worked differently.

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  25. "Albuquerque metro is part of a larger region that includes the Las Vegas metro -- the southern Southwest. You like transplant culture? Head down to Las Vegas. For almost its entire history, the residents in the state of Nevada are only like 10-20% likely to have been born there. It is a sink-hole of cohesion and continuity. Every generation comes from somewhere else."

    Around the late 90's Cops starting filming a lot in the Albuquerque area and Las Vegas as the current libertine mania and status seeking era deepened. If I'm not mistaken the show's producers had two HQ by the early 2000's and one of them was in Albuquerque.

    Speaking of Cops, it's telling that the early episodes made in the high crime/lower pretension period of the late 80's/early 90's were much different that later episodes. The early episodes tended to feature mild mannered, at times amiable officers who had to have their wits about them and had to know how to defuse explosive situations created by brash Boomers of all races and truculent Gen X black/brown youth. The white X-er kids usually came off as being out of it (often drunk or high) rather than cocky or ferociously reckless.

    As crime began after about 1994 officers seem to become more pompous and humorless. With relatively little to endanger them anymore officers ironically grew more paranoid and hostile towards the populace. Also, cops looked more ordinary before the mid 90's but later on started sporting buzz cuts and jacked up bodies. In a period of actual high crime, cops knew that your people skills and empathy were just as important as an "intimidating" hair cut or physique.

    Which reminds me, as people have grown more isolated from each other it seems like the thug/tribal aesthetic have really taken off. Believe it or not, as recently as the 80's people were concerned enough about projecting a welcoming image that even cops and non football player athletes tended to look mundane and wholesome. No tats, longer but well groomed hair (buzz cuts are dehumanizing), little to no facial hair etc.

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  26. Guys, calm down. You're not thinking straight.

    Ask yourselves how do successful companies attract and retain talent. Why would it be any different for any other kind of human organizations. If the communities you are talking about want to attract or retain their talent, they should find out what talented people want, then work to provide it. This is how the most successful companies do it. This is how it works and how it will always work. There is no reason to believe it would work any differently for any other human organization. This is the reality of the world and there is no use in complaining about it

    agnostic, you may be smart. But you do not understand how business works, or know anything about attracting and creating talents. Instead, you rant about this "paleo-right" philosophical mumble-jumble as though it is some magic pixie dust that can cure all the problems of the world. You need to forget about it and move on to something more productive.

    BTW, this paleo-right world-view is really not much different than the liberal-left. Its just mental masturbation.

    I also stand by my point, based on personal life experience, that the need for rootedness is a psychological weakness. It is a mental handicap that I, thankfully, am not burdened with.

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  27. Actually, I like sunbelt cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix. However, I currently live in the Portland, OR area, and like it a lot as well. Yes, indeed, I lived in East Asian (Japan, Taiwan, and Malaysia) for over 10 years. I also lived in SoCal for 5 years as well. Trust me when I tell you that some of us are perfectly capable of creating happiness and fulfilling lives for ourselves without any concept of rootedness. I am one of these people.

    agnostic, your anger and vitriol towards me suggests that you are secretly envious of my lack of need for rootedness. Perhaps you need a stiff drink and to calm down.

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  28. One other thing. Where I came from originally has cold winter weather. I prefer places that are warm or semi-warm year around. It would take a hell of a lot of global warming to make my hometown climate attractive to me. Perhaps one of the actions that can be done to motivate more talented people to stay in the colder parts of the U.S. would be some kind of geo-engineering project that would increase the mean global temperature about 10degC or so (like it was during most of Earth's history).

    There just weren't many high-status jobs, and no globally competitive institutions hosted there, so the Me Generation decided to abandon ship.

    Why didn't the political or business leadership work to create or bring in better industry and more high-paying jobs? This is obviously the root of the problem and the business and political leadership that failed to do this are to blame. It seems both silly and counterproductive to blame the people for leaving for better pastures.

    If you live in this area and care about it, perhaps you should consider running for public office or using whatever business influence you have to bring in better industry and revitalizing the region. If not, it seems to me that your feeling for this region and about this issue are insincere.

    agnostic,

    Having thought about this, I think your feelings on this issue are insincere as well. Instead of coming up with creative ideas of making these places more attractive to talented people, you would rather just complain about such people seeking opportunities elsewhere. This is both silly and counterproductive.

    This "paleo-right" philosophy of yours does a piss-poor job at attracting and motivating talented people. You need to ditch it immediately if you are interested in attracting and retaining such people for any venture you might pursue.

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  29. Where does this definition of "more talented people" come from. It seems to be a self defined term. Sort of like "look at me, I traveled Europe, live in Atlanta, work for Uber" so I must be one of the talented. I find plenty of brilliant people right here in the same place for generations. Transplants have a lack of generational family support not more talent. This support is important when life happens to you, like babies, illness and age.

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  30. Peter Blood1/30/15, 9:35 PM

    Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
    Who never to himself hath said,
    This is my own, my native land!
    Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
    As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
    From wandering on a foreign strand!
    If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
    For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
    High though his titles, proud his name,
    Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
    Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
    The wretch, concentred all in self,
    Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
    And, doubly dying, shall go down
    To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
    Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung.

    --Walter Scott

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  31. I still can't make up my mind whether kurt9 is straight up trolling:

    - He proposed legalizing polygamy and sex slavery as tactics a city could use to help win the Great Global War for Rootless Transient Talent (copyright Richard Florida)
    - Also proposed geo-engineering the Earth to radically increase temperatures, because some areas get cold in winter
    - The natural human desire for community and belonging is "a psychological weakness I and an elite few like me do not possess", but he can still easily establish a rich social life wherever he goes (perhaps via Grindr)
    - Keeps claiming agnostic is just annoyed because his own preferred area is losing the aforementioned War for Talent, which is so retarded it would make a straw man blush

    If it is trolling, it's too try-hard and wordy. If not, it is some seriously hardcore libertardian sperging, with all the cocksure certainty of a 15-year-old who has just read The Fountainhead.

    Moving on, one thing that came to mind here was a comment someone made once at MPC about how relationship-hopping is a bad idea, because once you reach your late-20's/early-30's most of your formative experiences and "firsts" are behind you, and even if you meet your soulmate they will not have shared any of that with you, making it impossible to bond as deeply as if you had experienced it together. The same goes for other types of relationships; friends you meet in the middle of your life don't know anything about what you were like as a child/teenager/young adult and were absent from all the critical developmental milestones of those years. That's not to say it's impossible to make friends, but it will be lacking a foundation compared to relationships that go way back where you can call each other out on your BS without batting an eye.

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  32. Andy Krause Where does this definition of "more talented people" come from. It seems to be a self defined term.

    In today's USA, people who fit agnostic's GSS variable definition of a transplant, people living in a different region, once you filter out the non-Hispanic Whites born abroad (who are a fairly large percentage of those under his variable) and the age structure (transplants are more represented at older ages and a fairly large number hit by the variable are out of state retirees), by looking at say only 30-60 year olds, are like this:

    They seem to be more educated, to have higher wordsum (vocabulary), to have higher incomes, more likely to be veterans (but also slightly less likely to be private and more to be government employees which'll probably grind Lou Bloom's - sorry Kurt's - gears if he's nodding along full of smug libertarianism).

    If you look at them by college major, the differences are not great statistically because they are so many categories, but they are more represented in hard and technical topics - mathematics, computer science, chem, physics, and more underrepresented in about all the rest, which are soft topics - finance, psychology, physical education, theater arts, nursing, finance. Sex differences may contribute to this but transplants overall are equally likely to be male or female.

    They're less likely to have ever been locked up or convicted of a crime. They rank themselves more as middle or upper class. Using the PLYMUSIC variable, they're even more likely to play a musical instrument, even more likely to have attended a dance performance (DANCE variable), more likely to have performed music or dance in the last year (PERFORM variable), they are more likely to read poems or plays (READFICT).

    So more talented by most measures. They're not an uber elite or anything, although it seems like there should be more highly talented personalities among them. Whether or not a community of transplants, or even a significant fraction ends up being less than the sum of its parts. I suspect that the reality is that there are very few natural transplant character types out there, so enterprises which attempt to fuel themselves off transplant "talents" alone rather than setting up shop somewhere with a good class of natives will have problems, even if they *could* work fine if there were enough of such people about.

    In terms of moral character they're more likely to have been divorced (in their life, just about as many of the were currently married), to have cheated - but this is hard to sift from them being generally older (which gives you more time for that stuff to have happened). They're seem more permissive on most variables, but smart people are usually more permissive and less socially conservative (whether or not this is just "clever silly" thinking.), so it's hard to tell that as distinct. Transplants tend to answer more self reliant on most applicable questions. On civic obligations (do you have an obligation to x), the only reasonably clear difference to me was one which was an index of intelligence - do you have an obligation to report a crime? - where clearly the answered in the more intelligent manner (yes) and military service where they answered unsurprisingly for a group with more years of service.

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  33. "Out of curiosity, how far west does regional solidarity go among Philly metro folks (natives, not transplants)? I know probably not all the way out to the capital of Appalachia, but lots of the middle part of the state is Appalachian too.

    Is it like New York, where everything above Westchester County is "upstate"?"

    I don't believe it extends into Pennsylvania at all beyond the suburbs of Philadelphia. Growing up, I never visited the rest of PA. People from Philly itself, though, were more connected to South Jersey; they went to shore a lot.

    On the map of NFL fan bases, you can see that most of PA falls into the Steelers camp, which means they associate more with Pittsburgh culturally. They see themselves more as conservative coal miners than liberal East Coasters.

    http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/FB_NFL_Fandom.jpg

    (click the map once to make it smaller and easier to view)

    Interestingly, the Steelers fan base extends into West Virginia - which underlines that upstate Pennsylvanians are more hillbilly and conservative.

    The regions on that map are probably more delineated than it portrays, but I think it is valid for showing where broaders loyalties lie.

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  34. The map also shows that Western New York is divided culturally from the rest of the upstate New York. I went to school up there, and that's my impression as well. The area is more conservative. It is also surprisingly diverse, which goes along with what I said earlier about how each region has the potential to be self-contained. You've got the touristy Buffalo, Rochester which has a surprising cultural scene, the big university at Syracuse, lots of small towns but also SWPL suburbs like Henrietta.

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  35. This post was about architecture, but so far nobody's said anything about likely factors in the profusion of ugly buildings. I don't claim tk know the answer, but my suzpicion is tgat most things are ruined by the introduction women's influence. My guess is that the influence of AA hiring in municipal and regional planning agencies is a big driver of ugly architecture, but I don't know the exact mechanism because I'm not in the field.

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  36. "The map also shows that Western New York is divided culturally from the rest of the upstate New York. I went to school up there, and that's my impression as well. The area is more conservative. It is also surprisingly diverse, which goes along with what I said earlier about how each region has the potential to be self-contained. You've got the touristy Buffalo, Rochester which has a surprising cultural scene, the big university at Syracuse, lots of small towns but also SWPL suburbs like Henrietta."

    That's where I'm from. Henrietta isn't SWPL-ville. More like Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Brighton, Victor, etc. Sorry to nit pick.

    Yes, Upstate NY is culturally much different from Downstate. I live in Westchester County, and I would say that the cutoff is Westchester/Rockland counties. There are pockets of affluence that countervail the overall culture, e.g., Albany because of the capitol, Hudson, Saratoga Springs, Skaneateles Lake, etc. But most of the Upstate culture is more conservative, god-fearing, and outdoors-oriented versus the Downstaters.

    That being said, most Upstate NYers still wouldn't give a shit about restoring/rebuilding old cities lost. Hell, Rochester was in the past compared with Old World cities, and looking at old pictures brings me to tears of what once had been. In the 1950s (probably urged on by Robert Moses) the city planners in ROC demolished a huge swath of the city for the Inner Loop, which effectively had a highway wending though the entire city. The Inner Loop made sense in the 50/60s when most people worked Downtown, but it has now been closed and will be filled in with landfill to create a park. While I guess a greenway is better than a beltway, I don't think anyone even thought about trying to restore those neighborhoods lost.

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  37. "That's where I'm from. Henrietta isn't SWPL-ville. More like Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Brighton, Victor, etc. Sorry to nit pick."

    No problem, I'm glad you weighed in. Would you say Western upstate New York differs much from eastern upstate?

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  38. "No problem, I'm glad you weighed in. Would you say Western upstate New York differs much from eastern upstate?"

    Nope, pretty much the same. It's all about hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, family, outdoors, etc. Western NY is all about the Bills, Eastern NY probably more about the Pats/Giants/Jets.

    I went to a college far away from Rochester, and my closest friends in college were from Syracuse and Albany. We had so much in common relating to our education, sense of humor, what we did as kids, etc.

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  39. "This post was about architecture, but so far nobody's said anything about likely factors in the profusion of ugly buildings. I don't claim to know the answer, but my suspicion is that most things are ruined by the introduction women's influence. My guess is that the influence of AA hiring in municipal and regional planning agencies is a big driver of ugly architecture, but I don't know the exact mechanism because I'm not in the field."

    AA can be blamed for worsening a lot of things. But post WW2 planning has been dominated by car centered planning especially in America. This has been an utter disaster.

    Before cars one had much time to reflect on the built environment. Walking thru wide streets, parking lots, buildings set back from the street 20 feet and so on is not fun but these things were mandatory for cars. If your only goal is to drive thru everything as fast as possible (and have a place to park) what difference does it make if everything is ugly, tasteless, and a headache for non-motorists?

    The most horrific (and necessary) planning atrocity in the 40's-early 70's was when huge swaths of American cities were demo'd so giant free ways could be run right thru them. One of the main planners understood why European cities worked well. They didn't shove freeways thru cities. So initially the Freeways were gonna be built AROUND rather than THRU the cities. But some charlatans claimed that it would be a grave inconvenience to anyone who wanted to get in and out of the city as fast as possible. Trouble is, after the freeways were rammed thru the cities people opted to do just that, get in and out in haste with no thought of actually spending more time and money in the city. The Freeways also obliterated the property values e.g the quality of life (criminals found the ease of exiting and entering enticing, remaining residents were stuck with higher noise and pollution levels on top of pre existing motor/factory/train annoyances.

    American's love to bash anything urban, but why does so much of Europe consider their generally beautiful cities to be such crown jewels of human design? Answer: they were developed for thousands of years with the demanding and almost always ugly needs of cars which are hostile to dense but pleasant living, not to mention refined aesthetics.

    When one goes thru an European town/city with minimal post WW2 influence, you get a vivid sense of the character of the place's inhabitants (all too often these days past inhabitants). But a typical post WW2 American area? It's all jutting skyscrapers, parking lots, wide ass roads, generic buildings (per J H Kunstler: muffler shops masquerading as churches), endless strip malls, office "parks" (a thin disguise for inhumane design).

    Post WW2 American design doesn't really reflect any resilient, proud sense of "this is who we are". Rather, it's just designing for what cars need. Such design ultimately clashes with human interests that don't involve jumping in a car and getting from point to point as fast as possible.

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  40. I meant to say that "The most horrific (and unnecessary) post WW2 planning atrocity was freeways going thru cities in America. Sorry 'bout the typo.


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  41. "But post WW2 planning has been dominated by car centered planning especially in America. This has been an utter disaster."

    Totally and utterly agree with that sentence, and pretty much your whole comment. I'd add that another factor is material costs. It's cheaper to build an ugly glass box than a pleasing Art Deco building, for instance.

    JV

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  42. Peter Blood2/4/15, 3:15 PM

    Mencken wrote an essay about Americans' love of ugliness:

    http://grammar.about.com/od/classicessays/a/hlmlibidougly.htm

    "Here is something that the psychologists have so far neglected: the love of ugliness for its own sake, the lust to make the world intolerable. Its habitat is the United States. Out of the melting pot emerges a race which hates beauty as it hates truth. The etiology of this madness deserves a great deal more study than it has got. There must be causes behind it; it arises and flourishes in obedience to biological laws, and not as a mere act of God. What, precisely, are the terms of those laws? And why do they run stronger in America than elsewhere? Let some honest Privat Dozent in pathological sociology apply himself to the problem."

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  43. The American character doesn't have anything to do with the fact that car focused development is almost always brutal to aesthetics and non motorists.

    If American had been given centuries to develop without cars I don't see why largely European descended American's would not have created cities up to European standards of functionality and grace. Keep in mind too that light rail can be trouble also. L.A.'s pre 1930 suburbs were designed for rail commuters though at least this doesn't require vast parking space which cars demand.

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  44. @M

    A lot of those stats are pretty unconvincing. As someone who has spent most of his adult life as and among transplants, I know a fair bit about the group. The first thing that strikes you about them as a group is how cargo-cultish they are about "being cultured". Things like learning musical instruments, going to dances, and reading poetry and fiction are boxes to be ticked off, points to bring up at parties. If you can smugly state you're "reading Dostoyevsky" (made it through the first 3 chapters on kindle! Next party I'll complain I don't read as much as I used to, what ever happened?), or "learning to play an instrument", so this sort of self-reporting doesn't really impress.

    The point, as with everything regarding Generation Me, is that cultural pursuits can't be captured by binary variables. READFICT=1 can mean I dabble in something in order to add it to my striver persona, or it can mean I deeply immerse myself in fiction and really engage with it as a hobby. The smart money is that anyone who self-identifies as "rootless" is the former, not the latter. Dedicating yourself to the persuit of perfection is out of vogue with this set, just like living amongst mongoloid poors who *snort* breed, go to church and die 50 miles from where they are born.

    The military service component should probably be discarded, as well. There's probably extreme co-linearity between being a transplant under the definition you provided and having served in the military, since the military ships you to somewhere else to live for extended periods. Bringing in people who are quasi-involuntarily transplanted needlessly muddies the waters, at any rate.

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