McMansion

139 results back to index


pages: 182 words: 55,234

Rendezvous With Oblivion: Reports From a Sinking Society by Thomas Frank

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, business climate, business cycle, call centre, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, deindustrialization, deskilling, Donald Trump, edge city, Frank Gehry, high net worth, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, McMansion, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Works Progress Administration

Although we are accustomed to blaming it all on subprime loans, about half of the disaster was actually attributable to the less well-known fiasco in Alt-A instruments, which fed the McMansion market—the “liar’s loans” that were securitized and sold off stamped with a big triple-A. The worst recession of our lifetime, in other words, was in large part the result of our superiors’ longing to get themselves a piece of the grandiose. That astounding reversal of the usual chain of cause and effect changed the way I thought about the McMansion. I once thought of writing an essay tracking stylistic changes in the tract-mansion form—how, say, the fake French simplicity of Newt Gingrich’s 1987 McMansion gave way to the complex multigabled fakery of Michele Bachmann’s 2007 McMansion, with maybe a stop in between to contemplate Ricky Bobby’s McMansion in Talladega Nights. But what I discovered is that the form doesn’t really change.

Today we call those changes inequality, and inequality is, obviously, the point of the McMansion. The suburban ideal of the 1950s, according to The Organization Man, was supposed to be “classlessness,” but the opposite ideal is the brick-to-the-head message of the dominant suburban form of today. The McMansion exists to separate and then celebrate the people who are wealthier than everybody else; this is the transcendent theme on which its crazy, discordant architectural features come harmoniously together. This form of development wants nothing to do with the superficial community-mindedness of the postwar suburb, and the reason the giant house looks the way it does is to inform you of this. Have the security guard slam the gates, please, and the rest of the world be damned. Inequality is the point of the McMansion, and the McMansion is also, to a certain degree, the point of inequality; it’s the pot of pyrite at the end of the rainbow of mud that we have chosen as a nation to follow.

They are built to flip: human settlements organized around the premise of the Greater Fool Theory. * * * They weren’t called McMansions at first, of course; that epithet came later. The man who bears the most responsibility for popularizing the term seems to have been Duany, the well-known architect and proponent of “New Urbanism.” A Florida newspaper quoted Duany using the term in 1990, and he could be found using it himself in an article he co-wrote for the Wilson Quarterly in 1992. His critique of the McManse—“the fast-food version of the American dream,” it segregated people by income and it forced us to drive if we wanted to go anywhere—was part of a lecture he gave criticizing botched planning in the suburbs. Google the word and you will find that nearly everyone who uses it criticizes McMansions. It is a universally hated architectural form. Indeed, after unemployment and the activities of investment bankers, the McMansion may be the most despised aspect of capitalism there is.


pages: 296 words: 76,284

The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving by Leigh Gallagher

Airbnb, big-box store, Burning Man, call centre, car-free, Celebration, Florida, clean water, collaborative consumption, Columbine, commoditize, crack epidemic, East Village, edge city, Edward Glaeser, extreme commuting, helicopter parent, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, Jane Jacobs, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, New Urbanism, peak oil, Peter Calthorpe, Ponzi scheme, Richard Florida, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tony Hsieh, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, Victor Gruen, walkable city, white flight, white picket fence, young professional, Zipcar

O’Toole, “City Guide: Best of the ’Burbs,” Pittsburgh magazine, August 2011. In their book Megapolitan America: Arthur C. Nelson and Robert E. Lang, Megapolitan America: A New Vision for Understanding America’s Metropolitan Geography (American Planning Association/Planners Press, 2011). America 2050, a think tank arm: See america2050.org under “Megaregions” (don’t skip the maps). Some foreclosed McMansions in exurbs are finding: Barbara Kiviat, “Reinventing the McMansion,” Time, September 28, 2009; Patricia Leigh Brown, “Animal McMansion: Students Trade Dorm for Suburban Luxury,” New York Times, November 12, 2011; Norimitu Onishi, “Foreclosed Houses Become Homes for Indoor Marijuana Farms,” New York Times, May 6, 2012. Some creative underwater owners: Alyssa Abkowitz, “Room for Rent—in a Mansion,” SmartMoney, February 14, 2011. INDEX The page numbers in this index refer to the printed version of this book.

This further increased home owners’ sense of wealth and spurred purchases of everything from SUVs to second homes to Saks Fifth Avenue shopping sprees. In addition to representing a place to live, the home had suddenly become a wealth creation machine. It was the American Dream, squared. The homes themselves grew bigger and more ornate—Arcadia Land’s Jason Duckworth refers to this as housing’s “baroque” period—and soon we were identifying them with a new label, the McMansion. Though almost every builder started making them during the housing boom, the invention of the modern-day McMansion dates decades earlier; the first use of the term dates to around 1990 and was soon thereafter defined by the Oxford English Dictionay as “a large modern house that is considered ostentatious and lacking in architectural integrity.” But identifying the demand for a new category of housing in between high-end custom-built homes and tract housing can be credited to Toll Brothers, which came to mass produce the most expensive homes of any builder in the country.

In 2007, the average square footage of U.S. homes built, which had grown from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,521 square feet, decreased for the first time since 1995, and it’s been declining since (it rose slightly in 2011, but analysts say that was due to stringent lending standards that constricted sales to wealthier buyers). A 2011 survey of builders by the NAHB found they expected home size to drop to 2,150 by 2015. The median “ideal home size” for Americans, according to a survey by Trulia, was 2,100 square feet, right around what it was in the 1990s. Demand appears to be waning for McMansions. Only 9 percent of respondents in a separate Trulia-Harris interactive survey in 2010 said they wanted homes over 3,000 square feet—which by McMansion standards isn’t even that big. A majority of respondents, 64 percent, said they preferred homes ranging from 800 to 2,000 square feet. In a state-of-the-industry overview at the 2012 home builders’ show, Boyce Thompson, then the editorial director of the Builder group of magazines for publisher Hanley Wood, told the crowd that 56 percent of builders had changed their design strategy within the past two years to build smaller homes.


pages: 265 words: 74,941

The Great Reset: How the Post-Crash Economy Will Change the Way We Live and Work by Richard Florida

banking crisis, big-box store, blue-collar work, business cycle, car-free, carbon footprint, collapse of Lehman Brothers, congestion charging, creative destruction, deskilling, edge city, Edward Glaeser, falling living standards, financial innovation, Ford paid five dollars a day, high net worth, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, invention of the telephone, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, McMansion, Menlo Park, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, pattern recognition, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, reserve currency, Richard Florida, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social intelligence, sovereign wealth fund, starchitect, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, total factor productivity, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, white flight, young professional, Zipcar

Could this be just the tip of the iceberg? Could the once-desirable suburban and exurban communities—with their endless cul-de-sacs and gated McMansions—be on their way to becoming the blighted and abandoned communities of tomorrow? “The future is not likely to wear well on suburban housing,” wrote the urban planning expert Christopher Leinberger in an attention-getting essay in the Atlantic, “The Next Slum?”16 Many of the inner-city neighborhoods that began their decline in the 1960s consisted of sturdily built, turn-of-the-century row houses, tough enough to withstand being broken up into apartments and requiring relatively little upkeep. “By comparison, modern suburban houses, even high-end McMansions, are cheaply built,” he writes. “Hollow doors and wallboard are less durable than solid-oak doors and lath-and-plaster walls.

I call it the “suburban bulldozer”—a tip of the hat to the much older phrase “federal bulldozer,” which referred to the government-sponsored demolition of inner-city neighborhoods during the heyday of federal urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s.14 The story behind the video was that Guaranty Bank of Austin had taken over the homes in foreclosure—four in the suburban Texas development and another twelve in California. The bank said it was tearing them down to create a “safe environment” for the neighbors. It’s interesting to pause there and note that brand-new homes, standing empty, could be seen as posing a danger to a neighborhood. In fact, just as youths squatted in abandoned tenements in the South Bronx and bohemians homesteaded the empty lofts and factories of Brooklyn, many of the empty McMansions of the Sunbelt are providing shelter to homeless and jobless young people. It’s entirely possible, of course, that the bank just decided it was cheaper to destroy those houses than to keep them up to building code. In some similarly affected parts of the country, the bulldozers may not even be necessary; the homes are collapsing on their own. At the peak of the building boom, housing was literally being thrown up all over the place.

A generation ago, all of life’s basic necessities—housing, transportation, health insurance, education, and taxes—accounted for 54 percent of the average family’s income; today, they account for 75 percent of it. It’s not so much that regular middle-class people are wanton “overconsumers,” note Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, it’s that we’ve been trapped by the ever-increasing costs of these necessities.4 That’s not completely true, of course. Some people did go hog wild, shelling out more and more for pricier cars and houses. Whether they were bigger (McMansions or Hummers) or better (Lexus Hybrids or renovated brownstones) is beside the point; the fact is that they cost more. The concentration of economic activity and talent in certain cities—New York, Washington, San Francisco, and so on—drove up demand, especially in prime, close-in neighborhoods. It wasn’t enough to buy a nice house; we’d entered the shelter chic, HGTV era—one needed the full complement of a designer Sub-Zero/Wolf/wine refrigerator kitchen; the humongous master bath with heated floor, massive soaking tub, and overhead rainfall shower; the tricked-out walk-in closet with special shelves and compartments for everything from shoes to shirts and hats; the home entertainment theater with in-ceiling stereo and flat panel on the wall; never mind a wine cellar of your very own.


pages: 321 words: 85,267

Suburban Nation by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Jeff Speck

A Pattern Language, American ideology, big-box store, car-free, Celebration, Florida, City Beautiful movement, desegregation, edge city, Frank Gehry, housing crisis, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, intermodal, Jane Jacobs, jitney, McMansion, New Urbanism, Peter Calthorpe, place-making, price mechanism, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, skinny streets, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration

PRIVATE REALM VERSUS PUBLIC REALM In the sparse universe of sprawl, the elementary particle is the single-family house. The current model is the fast-food version of the American dream—some call it the McMansion. Its roots can be traced back to the manse on the agricultural estate, or the cabin in the woods. Unlike its predecessors, however, the McMansion is located in the center of a small plot of land, surrounded at close quarters by more of the same. The aesthetic deficiencies of this form of housing are so obvious that a number of well-known architects have made a name for themselves by seeking inspiration in its kitsch. But the real problems here are not aesthetic but practical. Like its culinary counterpart, the McMansion provides excellent value for its price. American homebuilders are perhaps the best in the world when it comes to providing buyers with the private realm, the insides of the house.

They enter their cars and embark on a journey of banality and hostility that lasts until they arrive at the interior of their next destination. Americans may have the finest private realm in the developed world, but our public realm is brutal. Confronted by repetitive subdivisions, treeless collector roads, and vast parking lots, the citizen finds few public spaces worth visiting. One’s role in this environment is primarily as a motorist competing for asphalt. The McMansion: independent of its aesthetic qualities, an excellent value Outside the McMansion: a depleted public realm This disjunction between the private and public realm has resulted in a uniquely American form of schizophrenia, suburban Nimbyism. The reason people say, “I like living here, but I don’t want any others like me living here,” is that new suburban development does not provide them with any more of the satisfying private realm that they love; it only gives them more of the degraded public realm toward which they feel indifferent at best.

It is not just sentimental attachment to an old sledding hill that has you upset. It is the expectation, based upon decades of experience, that what will be built here you will detest. It will be sprawl: cookie-cutter houses, wide, treeless, sidewalk-free roadways, mindlessly curving cul-de-sacs, a streetscape of garage doors—a beige vinyl parody of Leave It to Beaver. Or, worse yet, a pretentious slew of McMansions, complete with the obligatory gatehouse. You will not be welcome there, not that you would ever have reason to visit its monotonous moonscape. Meanwhile, more cars will worsen your congested commute. The future residents will come in search of their American Dream, and in so doing will compromise yours. You are against growth, because you believe that it will make your life worse. And you are correct in that belief, because, for the past fifty years, we Americans have been building a national landscape that is largely devoid of places worth caring about.


pages: 222 words: 50,318

The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream by Christopher B. Leinberger

addicted to oil, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset allocation, big-box store, centre right, commoditize, credit crunch, David Brooks, desegregation, Donald Trump, drive until you qualify, edge city, full employment, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, knowledge economy, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, postindustrial economy, RAND corporation, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, reserve currency, Richard Florida, Seaside, Florida, the built environment, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight

This will mean that lower income families occupying these then lower cost houses will have large gasoline bills. And the new tenants will have to heat huge houses that are “outstanding in their fields”—exposed on all sides to the weather, unlike more efficient apartments and townhouses in more urban settings. Another problem is that today’s homes, even high-end McMansions, are cheaply built in comparison to those grand houses and townhouses that were broken up into apartments half a century ago. Hollow doors and wall board are less durable than solid oak doors and lath and plaster walls. Many McMansions have been built with artificial components that do not have a proven track record of long life, such as plywood 146 | THE OPTION OF URBANISM floors using glues that dry out over time and roofs that are built to last no more than ten years. The ultimate proof of the higher quality of the older grand houses and townhouses is that even after being broken up into rental apartments for thirty to sixty years—a very hard use of a property—many of these houses are being reconverted into single-family homes.

The socioeconomic “target market” is closely managed to make sure that only those with a defined high income level are admitted. Housing aimed at “lower” income households, those making less than $200,000 per year, will definitely be avoided at all costs. Only those that are “just like us,” known as JLUs in the jargon, will be allowed. MOVE - U P FO R - SALE HOU S ING —This housing will also be in the fa- vored quarter, though is less likely to be in a gated community. This type includes so-called “McMansions” and other oversized homes that provide “value.” Although large, these houses are not especially well built (hollow doors, sheetrock walls, and midlevel appliances). Yet on a price-per-squarefoot basis, they are very reasonably priced. The “curb appeal” of these homes is extremely important; they must look as large and impressive from the street T H E S TA N DA R D R E A L E S TAT E P R O D U C T T Y P E S | 5 5 as possible.

Census, metropolitan land use in the latter half of the twentieth century outpaced by at least four times the rate of metropolitan population growth, as we relocated farther and farther from the center to an ever-expanding fringe.15 In all probability, the land consumption in the last two decades of the twentieth century was actually at least six to eight times faster than metropolitan population growth, because the USDA does not consider some of the lowest density development popular over the past generation, such as McMansions on two-acre lots,16 as urban land use. A 2006 Brookings Institution study focused on “exurbia,” the fringe of a metropolitan area that is also not considered urbanized by the USDA, found even more extreme land consumption.17 Completely car-dependent, exurbia has on average fourteen acres of land for every house (compared to 0.8 acres per house for the typical new suburb), meaning that if exurban land consumption is also considered, there has been a far more rapid geometric increase of ten to twenty times faster than population growth during the last two decades of the twentieth century.


pages: 565 words: 122,605

The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us by Joel Kotkin

autonomous vehicles, blue-collar work, British Empire, carbon footprint, Celebration, Florida, citizen journalism, colonial rule, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Downton Abbey, edge city, Edward Glaeser, financial independence, Frank Gehry, Gini coefficient, Google bus, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, labor-force participation, land reform, life extension, market bubble, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, new economy, New Urbanism, Own Your Own Home, peak oil, pensions crisis, Peter Calthorpe, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Richard Florida, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Seaside, Florida, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, starchitect, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the built environment, trade route, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Victor Gruen, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, young professional

. ——— “World Megacities: Growing & Becoming Less Dense,” New Geography, http://www.newgeography.com/content/004823-megacities-growing-and-getting-less-dense. COX, Wendell and PAVLETICH, Hugh. (2014). “11th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2015,” Demographia, http://www.demographia.com/dhi.pdf. COY, Peter. (2012, November 16). “The Death of the McMansion Has Been Greatly Exaggerated,” Bloomberg Business, http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2012-11-16/death-of-the-mcmansion-has-been-greatly-exaggerated. CRITSER, Greg. (2010, September 2). “A Pill For Los Angeles? Medicating the Megacities,” Newgeography.com, http://www.newgeography.com/content/001742-a-pill-for-los-angeles-medicating-megacities. CROSSLEY, David. (2009, October 12). “Is the Grand Parkway out of sync with community priorities?,” Chron, http://blog.chron.com/thelist/2009/10/is-the-grand-parkway-out-of-sync-with-community-priorities/.

“In Northern Italy, the Agony of Aging Not So Gracefully,” New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/22/world/europe/22genoa.html. ROSENTHAL, Jack. (1974). “The Outer City: An Overview Suburban Turmoil in the United States,” Suburbia in Transition, New York: New Viewpoints. ROSS, Benjamin. (2014, May 4). “Disaster in the age of McMansions: America’s dangerous addiction to suburban sprawl,” Salon, http://www.salon.com/2014/05/04/disaster_in_the_age_of_mcmansions_americas_dangerous_addiction_to_suburban_sprawl/. ROTHMAN, Hal. (2003). Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started the 21st Century, New York: Routledge. ROXO, Sergio and HERDY, Thiago. (2013, June 13). “PM de SP usa tropa de choque para conter protestos em escalada de violencia,” Globo, http://oglobo.globo.com/brasil/pm-de-sp-usa-tropa-de-choque-para-conter-protestos-em-escalada-de-violencia-8680923.

“What is causing global warming is the lifestyle of the American middle class,” insists New Urbanist architect Andrés Duany, a major developer of dense housing himself and arguably the movement’s most important voice.25 To advocates such as Duany, a return to old urban forms encourages transit riding over cars, which is one way to reduce carbon emissions. But besides being environmentally imperative, the shift to denser development is also seen as somehow morally justified. Retro-urbanists—those who long for a return to the traditional pre-1950 city—represent a kind of moral imperative. Typically, this is cast as a choice between 4,000-square-foot McMansions and unbridled consumption on one side and more sustainable high-density urban living on the other. Columbia University’s Earth Institute executive director Steven Cohen speaks of a future “with smaller personal spaces, more frequent use of public spaces, bikes, parks, high-tech media, and constant attention to one’s environmental footprint.”26 Prince Charles’s vision of “eco-cities”—although more medieval than modern in its form—also embraces a similar viewpoint, urging British people to live in smaller spaces and grow their food in community gardens.


pages: 378 words: 102,966

Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by John de Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H Naylor, David Horsey

big-box store, Community Supported Agriculture, Corrections Corporation of America, Donald Trump, Exxon Valdez, financial independence, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, God and Mammon, greed is good, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Mark Shuttleworth, McMansion, medical malpractice, new economy, Peter Calthorpe, Ralph Nader, Ray Oldenburg, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, The Great Good Place, trade route, upwardly mobile, Yogi Berra, young professional

More than ever, homes have become a symbol of conspicuous consumption, as beneficiaries of the ’90s stock market boom began in many communities to buy real estate, bulldoze existing (and perfectly functional) homes, and replace them with megahouses of 10,000 square feet and more. “Starter castles,” some have named them. Others call them monster homes. On America’s Streets of Dreams, the competition is fierce. McMansions. . . Double McMansions. . . Deluxe McMansions. . . Deluxe McMansions with Cheese. . . Full Garage Deals. . . each one a little bigger and glitzier, popping up like mushrooms in a frenzy of home wars. In places like the spectacular mountain towns of the West, many such megahomes are actually second homes, mere vacation destinations for the newly rich. BETTER THAN TAIL FINS A similar story presents itself with automobiles.

“In line with growing class polarization, the classic posture of submission is making a stealthy comeback,” charges Ehrenreich, who worked as a maid for $6.63 an hour to research the story. She points out that one franchise, Merry Maids, even advertises its maid services with a brochure boasting that “we scrub your floors the old-fashioned way—on our hands and knees.”14 Doing research for her best-seller Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich went a-scrub-bing from McMansion to McMansion in Portland, Maine, working under rules that prohibited her from even taking a drink of water while cleaning a house. She discovered that some homes had hidden video cameras to be sure she stayed on track. She was amazed at what messes people left for her. Especially the children, one of whom exclaimed “Look, Mommy, a white maid!” upon seeing Ehrenreich. Having “cleaned the rooms of many overprivileged teenagers” as a maid, Ehren-reich concluded that “the American overclass is raising a generation of young people who will, without constant assistance, suffocate in their own detritus.”


pages: 425 words: 117,334

City on the Verge by Mark Pendergrast

big-box store, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, crowdsourcing, desegregation, edge city, Edward Glaeser, global village, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, jitney, liberation theology, mass incarceration, McMansion, New Urbanism, openstreetmap, Richard Florida, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, transatlantic slave trade, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, young professional

“This vacant property issue is an assault on the family,” said an exhibit organizer. “It’s tearing our city apart.” One mother in the Pittsburgh neighborhood said that her teenage daughter had been raped on the front porch of an abandoned home. It is little wonder that a contemporary article on the Next American City website called Atlanta “a portrait of dysfunction.” The vacant homes in the southern part of the city stood in stark contrast to the gigantic “McMansions” thrown up in wealthy northern Atlanta neighborhoods. These had become so numerous by 2006 that Shirley Franklin issued a temporary moratorium on such massive home building on lots where older, smaller homes once stood. Sometimes the good intentions of white liberals who supported the BeltLine failed to connect with black residents on the southern and western sides of town. In 2007, for instance, Danielle Roney and Diana Mulhall published BeltLine Cultural Impact Study, a lushly-illustrated call for the inclusion of the arts along the BeltLine: “Imagine a city where arts and culture draw visitors from around the world, year-round.”

They envisioned theater, dance performances, studios, and cultural centers—all fine ideas, but with little connection to the immediate needs of devastated neighborhoods. Richard Bright, a West End minister and health educator, instead noted that the BeltLine “could be a marvelous opportunity to develop comprehensive planning” to address local concerns about housing, health, and jobs. By 2009, there was no need for a moratorium on building McMansions or anything else. Many ambitious projects faltered and failed because of the credit collapse, including several around the BeltLine. The Georgia office of the Trust for Public Land was stuck, to the tune of $25 million, with property not yet acquired by the city that Jim Langford had purchased near the top of the real estate market. With inadequate TAD income, the city had no way to buy it anytime soon, so the trust had to resell it in the private sector, beginning in 2008, though it would take years to unload all of it.

Now, some fifty years later, the area remains unchanged in many ways. The same streets feature some familiar homes, set back behind sweeping lawns, though Latinos rather than African Americans mostly maintain the yards. As this book went to press, my elderly mother still lived in that big brick colonial on the hill, but its next-door twin, built by the same developer in the early 1950s, had been torn down a few years before to make way for a monstrous McMansion. Other gigantic homes have replaced various domiciles throughout Buckhead. In recent years when I accompanied my parents on their morning dog walk, we sometimes went to Garraux Road, an exclusive dead-end street off Ridgewood that is quiet and wooded, with only a rare vehicle. As we walked down the road, we could see a fortress-like home behind a wrought-iron fence with guard dogs. It belonged to Tyler Perry, the black filmmaker, actor, and television producer, who bought the seventeen-acre spread in 2007.* Perry, who arrived in Atlanta with nothing in 1990 at age twenty-two, is not the only affluent African American who has moved to Buckhead, but the area remains overwhelmingly white.


pages: 229 words: 64,697

The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You'll Ever Need by Scott Pape

Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, estate planning, financial independence, index fund, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Own Your Own Home, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Snapchat

It's kind of like when you see a picture of yourself on Facebook and think, ‘Who's that fat bastard?' When you're a bit flabby, there's no denying it. You know it. Your kids know it. You can't hide it. It's there on display for everybody to see and judge. But it's the opposite when it comes to money. It's easy to hide your financial flab from the world. I've found that it's often the most financially flabby people who appear to look the fittest. They can have a McMortgaged McMansion, a leased Lexus and a maxed-out platinum credit card, and you'd never know that behind closed doors they're the financial equivalent of pudgy North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. No-one knows that they're walking around with the financial equivalent of cankles. At least if you've got a muffin top you've got the motivation to buy an Ab King Pro on a late-night infomercial, or sign up for Light n' Easy.

I learned a lot about life and money from my grandparents — they were part of the so-called Silent Generation who lived (and thrived) through the not-so-Great Depression. What did that mean in a practical sense? Well, they paid their bills on time … with cash. They saved their money … rather than relying on credit cards. They didn't expect handouts … being on the dole was something to be ashamed of. They lived in modest homes — not McMansions — and they celebrated when they paid them off. And they created a real legacy, which — ultimately — is what this book is all about. Introducing the Barefoot Steps Some finance books are wishy-washy on what you should do. They say things like, ‘Write down your dreams'. Others are written by weirdos who have colour-coded spreadsheets for their undies drawer and whose idea of a holiday is the Bendigo caravan park (communal toilet option).

And in a moment, I'll prove it to you. But first, let's look at why you don't feel like Richie Rich right now. Jerry Seinfeld talks garbage You may have read that Australia has the highest rate of household debt in the world. Yet our massive debts are just a symptom of the real problem: our out-of-control spending. Did you know that Australians on average live in the biggest homes in the world? Our supersized McMansions are 10 per cent bigger than the Yanks' (our nearest competitor in the battle of the housing bulge). Is it because we have bigger families? No. Is it because we have more room to build? No. (If you've ever been to a house-and-land package estate, you'll see that the houses are huge and they take up almost every inch of the block — and they're packed in like sardines.) My theory is that we live in the biggest homes in the world because we need every inch of floor space to store our ‘stuff'.


pages: 309 words: 78,361

Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth by Juliet B. Schor

Asian financial crisis, big-box store, business climate, business cycle, carbon footprint, cleantech, Community Supported Agriculture, creative destruction, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Gini coefficient, global village, IKEA effect, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, life extension, McMansion, new economy, peak oil, pink-collar, post-industrial society, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, smart grid, The Chicago School, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, Zipcar

But with higher energy prices, the sprawling homes of outer-ring suburban development cost too much to heat, cool, and commute from. Just as the high gas prices of 2007 and 2008 spurred a flight into smaller cars and hybrids, the homes that will be built in coming years will not only be more energy efficient, but, on average, they will likely be smaller. Can Americans learn to love them as they have loved their McMansions? Affordability will drive the transition. People want to own homes, but they also want them to be smart investments. There are other potential benefits to downsizing. Some argue that McMansions are just too large for optimal social connection. One housing researcher opined that these oversize homes are “good for the dysfunctional family.” But a simple shrinking of homes isn’t the answer. Instead, we need a repurposing driven by smart design, another quantity-to-quality shift. If you’re constrained on one dimension (square footage), optimize on others, by building multi-purpose areas and high functionality everywhere.

At the far end of the genre are artists working on what they call “high-tech nomadic living,” with teensy houses that actually walk, in homage to the peripatetic lifestyles of the Romany people. While the walking home is a curiosity, the beginnings of a trend toward ecovillages and cohousing solve the size dilemma particularly efficiently, by letting residents share spaces that are used only intermittently. Cohousing communities include guest rooms, larger spaces for entertaining, gyms, or even media rooms, pools, and other amenities that sit empty much of the time in McMansions. By combining resources, owners can obtain the benefits of large homes, but at a fraction of the cost. Recent press reports suggest the demand for small houses and living spaces is growing rapidly, given the obvious appeal of life without a mortgage, or a surfeit of stuff. The developer of one green project in Seattle that involves condos atop a Hyatt hotel is betting that the eight-hundred-square-foot size he’s offering will be a winner, as others in the field write the obituary of the “big house.”


pages: 281 words: 86,657

The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City by Alan Ehrenhalt

anti-communist, big-box store, British Empire, crack epidemic, David Brooks, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Frank Gehry, haute cuisine, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Jane Jacobs, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, McMansion, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, Peter Calthorpe, postindustrial economy, Richard Florida, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, walkable city, white flight, working poor, young professional

(photo credit 2.2) To an outsider, it doesn’t look that way. The vertical McMansions built in the last few years stand mostly as conspicuous exceptions to the long rows of Victorian cottages. They are conspicuous mainly because there are still relatively few of them. But there is no denying that the biggest story in Sheffield, at least until the real estate bust of 2008, was the arrival of the superrich. Some of them are famous. Kerry Wood, the onetime star pitcher for the Cubs, became a resident of the neighborhood. So did Penny Pritzker, the Hyatt heiress identified by Forbes magazine in 2009 as the 647th-richest person in America, who built a home of more than eight thousand square feet on Orchard Street, just south of Armitage, a street that some locals have taken to calling “Gazillionaire’s Row.” The McMansions in and around Sheffield don’t look anything like their suburban counterparts.

And there are massive curb cuts that critics say ruin the pedestrian flavor of the streets on which they are placed. The owners of the smaller houses that still dominate the neighborhood can’t really be said to have suffered economically. They bought for next to nothing, in many cases have paid off the mortgages, and could sell them for a fortune. The one depressing fact of life for the owner of a Sheffield cottage is taxes. Some home owners whose buildings fall far short of McMansion status find themselves looking at property tax bills that can run as high as $11,000 a year. The most common complaint that long-term Sheffield residents make about the newcomers, however, is that they don’t have much interest in broader community life. There’s been “a tremendous diminution in participation in civic affairs,” says Martin Oberman, who used to represent Sheffield on the Chicago City Council.


pages: 362 words: 83,464

The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bob Noyce, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Graeber, deindustrialization, don't be evil, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, energy security, falling living standards, future of work, Gini coefficient, Google bus, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, low-wage service sector, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, McJob, McMansion, medical bankruptcy, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Buchheit, payday loans, Peter Calthorpe, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

John Aziz, “A Mortgage Is a Terrible Investment,” The Week, May 1, 2014. 69. Richard Fry and Paul Taylor, “A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%,” Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends, April 23, 2013, http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/04/23/a-rise-in-wealth-for-the-wealthydeclines-for-the-lower-93; Benjamin Ross, “Disaster in the Age of McMansions: America’s Dangerous Addiction to Suburban Sprawl,” Salon, May 4, 2014, http://www.salon.com/2014/05/04/disaster_in_the_age_of_mcmansions_americas_dangerous_addiction_to_suburban_sprawl; Dan McLaughlin, “In Defense of Homeownership (or, Why Food and Housing Are Different),” Federalist, May 5, 2014, http://thefederalist.com/2014/05/05/in-defense-of-homeownership-or-why-food-and-housing-are-different; Josh Barro, “Everyone Wants to Be a Homeowner. Why Not a Foodowner?”

For example, Chris Leinberger at Brookings argues as follows: As people age, and as the percentage of traditional family households drop in the nation as a whole, demand for single-family houses—largely stimulated by young families with children—will also drop. The replacement generation, the millennials, won’t have much use for large-lot homes on the leafy cul-de-sacs that their parents once occupied. Exurbia, he predicts, will largely be populated by poor families crowding into dilapidated, bargain-priced former McMansions in the new “suburban wastelands” that demographic forces will create. Suburbs, not inner cities, will be the new epicenter of inequality, even though the percentage of poor people, as shown above, has remained far higher in the urban core.88 The Coming Conflict over Land Use Real-world behavior, however, is overwhelmingly inconsistent with such fervently held expectations of the coming wave of density.


Multicultural Cities: Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles by Mohammed Abdul Qadeer

affirmative action, business cycle, call centre, David Brooks, deindustrialization, desegregation, edge city, en.wikipedia.org, Frank Gehry, game design, ghettoisation, global village, immigration reform, industrial cluster, Jane Jacobs, knowledge economy, market bubble, McMansion, new economy, New Urbanism, place-making, Richard Florida, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, Skype, telemarketer, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, urban planning, urban renewal, working-age population, young professional

And if these mega-homes bring new ethnic groups, the design dispute can turns into a racial and ethnic confrontation. Variously called monster or mega-homes in Canada and McMansions in the United States, they often are permissible within the existing zoning envelope, except that the existing homes were not built to the maximum of the permissible volume. Hong Kong Chinese moving into the Kerrisdale and South Shaughnessy neighbourhoods of Vancouver ignited the resident English Canadians’ protests. The City of Vancouver’s planning department and the city council intervened and mediated between the two communities, coming up with new design guidelines (1993) requiring that new homes have regard for the streetscape and architectural compatibility.46 Los Angeles’s McMansions, often associated with rich Iranians, were regulated through special city ordinances in 2008 and 2010 requiring that they be consistent with the lot size, character of the neighbourhood, and steepness of slope.47 230 Multicultural Cities The neighbouring towns of Markham and Aurora in the Toronto area were petitioned by numerous Chinese homeowners for a change of their house numbers that had the digit four (4).

For the financial troubles of California cities see Toronto Star, “Stockton is Biggest City in U.S. to File for Bankruptcy,” 28 June 2012, A32. Amin, Ethnicity and the Multicultural City. Ontario Municipal Board, Tilzen Holdings Ltd versus Town of Markham (1998), O.M.B.D. no. 319, File no. PL 956623.D950049, Z960134, M970061. Mohammad Qadeer, “Pluralistic Planning for Multicultural Cities: The Canadian Practice,” Journal of the American Planning Association 63, no. 4 (Autumn 1997), 487. “LA Mayor Signs Law to Limit McMansions in Hillsides,” www .catadjuster.org/Forums/tabid/60/aft/11759/Default.aspx. Author’s interview with town officials in October 2009. Qadeer, “Pluralistic Planning for Multicultural Cities,” 487. Shuguang Wang and Jason Zhong, Delineating Ethnoburbs in Metropolitan Toronto, CERIS Working paper no.100 (Toronto: CERIS – Ontario Metropolis Centre, 2013), 20. Quoted in Christopher Hawthorne, “‘Latino Urbanism’ Influences a Los Angeles in Flux,” Los Angeles Times, 6 December2014.

., 60 Markham (Toronto): and Chinese assimilation, 132; ethnic economic niches, 101; ethnic enclaves, 46, 65; ethnic malls, 75, 99, 231; 346 Index house numbers, 230; as integrated neighbourhood, 73; places of worship, 303n36; political representation, 183, 296n29; responsiveness to minorities’ interests, 191, 204 marriages: and civic culture, 144; forced, 52; interracial, 142, 146–7, 292n49; laws, 23; same-sex, 16, 23 Massey, D., 83, 131 Maytree Foundation, 206 McDonald’s Restaurants, 162 McMansions, 229 media, 158–61; and consumer markets, 101, 110; and inter-ethnic relations, 164, 167; multi-ethnic, 250–1; and public awareness, 30–1; and transnationalism, 55, 93 mega-homes, 229 melting pot, 5, 22, 25, 32, 131, 254 mental health services, 204, 210 Metro Gold Line (Los Angeles), 232 Mexicans: demographics, 46; earnings, 109; economic niches, 103, 104–5; enclaves, 61, 65, 70, 72, 72; ethnic categorization, 15–16; immigration of, 52; malls, 75; political representation, 54, 180, 181; self-employment rates, 102, 103, 104, 112 Miami: ethnic economies, 74, 89, 93; ethnic enclaves, 59, 72, 84; public recognition in, 191; and social sustainability, 86; and transnationalism, 93; urban theories and, 28 Middle Eastern, 74, 94, 157, 158 middleman minorities, 94, 115, 189 Midwood (Brooklyn), 67, 142 Mills, C.W., 190 Minneapolis (Minnesota), 58–9 minorities: demands for equality, 41; effects of, 31; inclusiveness of, 31; integration of, 33; rights of, 21, 25, 28, 29–30; segmented assimilation theory and, 33; spatial assimilation of, 82–4 Mississauga (Toronto CMA), 73, 79, 183, 191, 204, 296n29 Modell, J., 90 “model” minorities, 105, 113, 156, 259 Mollenkopf, J.H., 120, 160, 172, 177, 255, 289n9 monster homes, 229 Monterey Park (LA County): about, 70, 137; assimilation in, 132, 257; demographics, 46, 70; ethnic economies, 92; ethnic enclaves, 58, 70, 72, 116; political representation, 181; and politics of land use, 228; storefront signs, 165–6 Montreal: and community life, 142; ethnic enclaves, 67, 134; harmonization in school policies, 210–11; integrated neighbourhoods, 73; and public swimming pools, 201 mosaic, Canada as, 32, 50, 53 mosques: about, 79, 80; architecture of, 226; in commercial areas, 227; opposition to, 78–9, 224–5, 302n29, 302–3n35; and social geography, 59, 78, 79; statistics, 225, 226, 302n34; in urban planning, 218, 225–7, 302–3n35, 302n34 movies, 160, 257.


pages: 603 words: 182,781

Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay

3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, Boris Johnson, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Kangaroo Route, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, kremlinology, low cost airline, Marchetti’s constant, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, Peter Calthorpe, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, starchitect, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, white picket fence, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

For one thing, airliners are more virtuous and resilient than you might expect. China’s airports aren’t the source of its noxious air; its coal-burning power plants are. (China burns more coal than the United States, Europe, and Japan combined.) In the United States, as many as half of our own emissions emanate from “the built environment,” the energy consumed to build and service sprawl. We emit more carbon living in McMansions. For another, air travel’s actual share of our carbon footprints is currently 3 percent and falling (at least in the United States), thanks to a bounty of incremental and potentially revolutionary advances meant to slow and hopefully end its carbon contributions. The next generation of airliners, headlined by Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, is lighter and more fuel efficient than last century’s models, complemented by new engines that burn quietly and clean.

And still no one had thought to make any provisions for what should and what shouldn’t be built beyond the perimeter, because even in the year following Sputnik, no one could foresee what would happen next: Ronald Reagan’s blank checks for Star Wars and the contractors who cashed them would conspire to plow under the hillsides and erect the prototypical edge cities that redefined our urban landscapes. Dulles would be the anchor. The airport’s saving grace was its size, nearly four times the landmass of LAX, and more than all of greater LA’s airports combined. No one could build horse farms or McMansions close enough to complain about the noise, leaving the airport to operate in peace and (relative) quiet. It wouldn’t emerge from its torpor until Reagan took office in 1981. His plan for winning the Cold War—to outspend the Soviets into oblivion—opened a gusher of defense contracts that poured out of the Pentagon and spilled across Virginia in the 1980s. After a pause during the New World Order, a second flood of federal procurement funds never subsided, and kept rising in the post-9/11 reshuffling of dollars and duties to the likes of Homeland Security, Halliburton, and, once again, Boeing.

The mountain megas’ airports have added forty million passengers in just the last twenty years, which is why Denver was forced to build DIA and why Las Vegas and Phoenix are both planning second airports. While Lang worries about a lack of nonstop flights, the greater threat to Denver is the tide of migration. Even in the depths of the recession, the aerotropolis was filling faster than expected, was sparser than it should be, and was top-heavy with starter McMansions. Reunion and the surrounding boomburbs have been zoned for forty-four thousand homes and roughly 150,000 people. The nascent aerotropolis is making the same, albeit less fatal, mistakes of a Schaumburg or Fairfax at warp speed, spreading across so many cities, counties, and assorted municipal entities that no one is in a position to fill in everyone on the bigger picture, which is how Cal Fulenwider was able to sell his own in the first place.


pages: 204 words: 67,922

Elsewhere, U.S.A: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms,and Economic Anxiety by Dalton Conley

assortative mating, call centre, clean water, commoditize, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Edward Glaeser, extreme commuting, feminist movement, financial independence, Firefox, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, off grid, oil shock, PageRank, Ponzi scheme, positional goods, post-industrial society, post-materialism, principal–agent problem, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

That is, just as leisure is work and work is leisure (i.e., weisure), so, too, consumption equals investment. A tax-deductible home equity loan is savings. Though it costs 50 to 100 grand to redo a kitchen with Miele appliances and a Sub-Zero refrigerator, these are really investments since the data show that kitchen and bathroom remodeling typically retain 97 percent of their cost during resale. Ditto for the house—or McMansion—itself, which has more than doubled in size (and increased in price twenty-fold) since the 1950s. Likewise, the Hummer is tax-deductible (since it is classified not as a car but as a light truck). Not to mention the time-share in the private jet (ostensibly for business use—wink, wink). Even the bacchanal thrown by Wired magazine—replete with custom martinis and corporate goodie bags—is really an investment in customer relations.

In other words, we can—like an expansionary sports league—imbue more and more aspects of life with a positional element. So things—like meals—that once were produced and consumed in order to satisfy a basic individual human need can sometimes become positional goods, too. One consequence is the increasing role that material goods play as positional goods—something Hirsch didn’t consider. Mrs. and Mr. Elsewhere absolutely have to have the latest iPhone, McMansion, or SUV There’s nothing inherent about an iPhone that makes it a positional good. Some (but not all) of its features are material improvements on previous models. It may save us time and effort to have all of our music, phone numbers, and photos in one handy little gadget. Or it may not, as some users are finding. However, to the extent that the pleasure from the iPhone or the Hummer or the $5,000 gas grill (a favorite example of the economist Robert Frank in his related book, Luxury Fever) stems from the fact that it is better—or at least more costly and thus rarer—than the grills of one’s neighbors, it has become a status or positional good.


pages: 202 words: 8,448

Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World by Srdja Popovic, Matthew Miller

Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, British Empire, corporate governance, desegregation, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Jane Jacobs, Kibera, Kickstarter, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nelson Mandela, Occupy movement, Rosa Parks, urban planning, urban sprawl

In Serbia, for example, everyone told me that it was impossible to stand up to Milošević because he had the army, the police, and the statecontrolled media. In Burma, they told me that their culture of obedience guaranteed that people would never challenge the junta. And when I visit the United States, people constantly complain that all that Americans care about is lling their Walmart shopping carts and mowing the lawn in front of their McMansions. But guess what? Martin Luther King Jr., was from America, monks are leading the demonstrations in the streets of Rangoon, and today Serbia is a democracy. The rst step to building a successful movement, I told the Egyptians, was to get rid of the idea that whatever had happened somewhere else could never be replicated at home. This notion, I said, rested on two assumptions, one right and the other wrong.

leaders even caught himself cheering on the dictator, gushing (to his embarrassment only moments later), “Go get them, Slobo!” But it was a normal reaction, because when your cave is in danger, you root for the chief to succeed. Even if the guy is a jerk. This helps explain why all forms of violence—whether we are speaking about the killing- elds variety we see in Syria or the protest burning of McMansions by militant environmentalists in the United States—are so much less e ective in bringing about lasting social change than peaceful measures are. Violence scares people, and when people are scared, they look for a strong leader to protect them. And this relates, as does everything else in this book, to the pillars of power. As my friend Slobo says, people in violent struggles are always trying to knock down pillars by pushing them, but in nonviolent campaigns people are working to pull the pillars to their side.


pages: 598 words: 140,612

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser

affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, carbon footprint, Celebration, Florida, clean water, congestion charging, declining real wages, desegregation, different worldview, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, European colonialism, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, global village, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute cuisine, Home mortgage interest deduction, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job-hopping, John Snow's cholera map, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, Rosa Parks, school vouchers, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, Thales and the olive presses, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Works Progress Administration, young professional

Good environmentalism means putting buildings in places where they will do the least ecological harm. This means that we must be more tolerant of tearing down the short buildings in cities in order to build tall ones, and more intolerant of the activists who oppose emissions-reducing urban growth. Governments should encourage people to live in modestly sized urban aeries instead of bribing home buyers into big suburban McMansions. If ideas are the currency of our age, then building the right homes for those ideas will determine our collective fate. The strength that comes from human collaboration is the central truth behind civilization’s success and the primary reason why cities exist. To understand our cities and what to do about them, we must hold on to those truths and dispatch harmful myths. We must discard the view that environmentalism means living around trees and that urbanites should always fight to preserve a city’s physical past.

The GI Bill offered no-down-payment housing loans for veterans, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) guaranteed up to 95 percent of mortgages for middle-income buyers. With a government-guaranteed loan, Levitt’s buyers only needed to come up with $400 to buy a home packed with modern appliances and surrounded by leafy space. Levitt’s eight-hundred-square-foot ranch houses now seem tiny and quaint, but to New Yorkers who had grown up in crowded tenements, they were the McMansions of their day. Neither federal housing policies nor interstate highway spending were designed to be antiurban, but they certainly hurt cities. The highway program was meant to connect the country, but subsidizing highways ended up encouraging people to commute by car. Encouraging home buying through the home mortgage interest deduction and government-guaranteed mortgages was meant to correct alleged imperfections in the mortgage market and create propertyowning citizens with a stake in their country.

., 186. 175 possibly apocryphal story: Aaseng, Business Builders, 62. 175 twenty-six separate steps: Ibid. 175 thousands of homes quickly in one area: “Line Forms Early in Sale of Houses,” New York Times, Mar. 7, 1949, p. 21, repr. in Nicolaides and Wiese, eds., Suburb Reader. 176 splurging on housing subsidies: Gans, Levittowners, 13-14, 22. 176 GI Bill . . . for middle-income buyers: U.S. Government Printing Office, Congressional Research Service, A Chronology of Housing Legislation and Selected Executive Actions, 1892-2003, Mar. 2004, www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CPRT-108HPRT92629/html/CPRT-108HPRT92629.htm. 176 the McMansions of their day: Hayden, “Building the American Way,” 276. 176 disproportionately to middle-class enclaves: U.S. General Accounting Office, Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division, House of Representatives, Community Development: The Extent of Federal Influence on “Urban Sprawl” Is Unclear, Apr. 30, 1999, GAO/RCED-99-87 Research on “Urban Sprawl,” www.gao.gov/archive/1999/rc99087.pdf. 176 overwhelmingly single-family houses: U.S.


pages: 448 words: 142,946

Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Bretton Woods, capital controls, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, corporate raider, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, disintermediation, diversification, fiat currency, financial independence, financial intermediation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global supply chain, God and Mammon, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, land value tax, Lao Tzu, liquidity trap, McMansion, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Scramble for Africa, special drawing rights, spinning jenny, technoutopianism, the built environment, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail

On the other hand, an enormous proportion of this human activity is either superfluous or deleterious to human happiness. Consider first the armaments industry and the resources consumed in war: some $2 trillion dollars a year, a vast scientific establishment, and the life energy of millions of young people, all to serve no need except one we create ourselves. Consider the housing industry here in the United States, with the enormous McMansions of the last two decades that again serve no real human need. In some countries a building that size would house fifty people. As it is, the cavernous living rooms go unused, for people feel uncomfortable in their inhuman scale and seek out the comfort of the small den and the breakfast nook. The materials, energy, and maintenance of such monstrosities are a waste of resources. Perhaps even more wasteful is the layout of suburbia, which makes public transportation impossible and necessitates inordinate amounts of driving.

Of course, we would lose a vast number of “jobs” as well, but since these are not contributing much to human well-being anyway, we could employ those people digging holes in the ground and filling them up again with no loss. Or, better, we could devote them to labor-intensive roles like permaculture, care for the sick and elderly, restoration of ecosystems, and all the other needs of today that go tragically unmet for lack of money. A world without weapons, without McMansions in sprawling suburbs, without mountains of unnecessary packaging, without giant mechanized monofarms, without energy-hogging big-box stores, without electronic billboards, without endless piles of throwaway junk, without the overconsumption of consumer goods no one really needs is not an impoverished world. I disagree with those environmentalists who say we are going to have to make do with less.

I will offer one more piece of evidence for my view: if the growth of money really were driving the technological and cultural meeting of new needs, then wouldn’t we be more fulfilled than any humans before us? Are people happier now, more fulfilled, for having films rather than tribal storytellers, MP3 players rather than gatherings around the piano? Are we happier eating mass-produced food rather than that from a neighbor’s field or our own garden? Are people happier living in prefab units or McMansions than they were in old New England stone farmhouses or wigwams? Are we happier? Has any new need been met? Even if it has not, I won’t discard the entire corpus of technology, despite all the ruin it has wrought upon nature and humanity. In fact, the achievements of science and technology do meet important needs, needs that are key drivers of sacred economics. They include the need to explore, to play, to know, and to create what we in the New Economy movement call “really cool stuff.”


pages: 513 words: 128,075

The Peripheral by William Gibson

business process, McMansion, pattern recognition, telepresence

TANGO HOTEL SOLDIER SHIT 52. BOOTS ON THE GROUND 53. SANTA CLAUS’S HEADQUARTERS 54. IMPOSTOR SYNDROME 55. COMPLICATED 56. THE LIGHT IN HER VOICE MAIL 57. GOOD CHINA 58. WU 59. ADVENTURE CAPITALISTS 60. BROWNING IN 61. TIMESICK 62. NOT EXPECTED 63. THREW UP 64. STERILE 65. BACKDOOR TO NOW 66. DROP BEARS 67. BLACK BEAUTY 68. ANTIBODY 69. HOW IT SOUNDS 70. ASSET 71. McMANSION 72. HALFWAY POSH 73. RED GREEN BLUE 74. THAT FIRST GENTLE TOUCH 75. PRECURSORS 76. EMULATION APP 77. WHEELIE BOY 78. FRONTIERLAND 79. THE JACKPOT 80. THE CLOVIS LIMIT 81. ALAMO 82. THE NASTINESS 83. ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD IN A MOMENT OF TIME 84. SOHO SQUARE 85. FUTURE PEOPLE 86. CHATELAINE 87. THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARTY TIME 88. PARLIAMENT OF BIRDS 89.

“Lowbeer has her own asset, or assets, in the stub,” Lev said. “Ash says they’re on this too. As are her brother and Macon, of course.” “Who are they, these assets?” “She isn’t saying. Ash and Ossian don’t like that. It would be whoever has access to the Gonzales White House, I imagine, not that she’s ever suggested as much.” He picked up his fork. “Eat these while they’re still warm. Then we’ll go down and see Ash.” 71. MCMANSION Pickett’s place, as much as she’d ever see of it, wasn’t what she’d imagined at all. Reece had driven her past a white gatehouse with window slits, but hadn’t turned in. Further along, past a long stretch of white plastic fence, fabbed to look like somebody’s idea of Old Plantation, he’d turned in to a less-important-looking gate, already open, where two men in cammies and helmets were waiting, beside a golf cart.

The man who held the leash sat beside her, in the back, and the other man drove, and neither one of them said a word, as they drove her to Pickett’s house, some back way, on single-lane gravel that hadn’t been properly graded. The house had floodlights trained on it, bright as day and ugly as shit, though this was just the back of it. They’d painted everything white, she guessed to tie it together, but it didn’t. Looked like somebody had patched a factory, or maybe a car dealership, onto a McMansion, then stuck an Interstate chain restaurant and a couple of swimming pools on top of that. There were sheds scattered, beside the gravel and further back, and machinery too, under big tarps, and she wondered if he actually built drugs here. She’d figured he wouldn’t, but maybe he didn’t have to give a shit. But then maybe he didn’t actually live here. The cart rolled up to a corrugated white door in the factory-looking part, stopped, and the man beside her gave the leash a little tug, so she got off.


pages: 428 words: 134,832

Straphanger by Taras Grescoe

active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, Albert Einstein, big-box store, bike sharing scheme, Boris Johnson, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, City Beautiful movement, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, David Brooks, deindustrialization, East Village, edge city, Enrique Peñalosa, extreme commuting, financial deregulation, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, indoor plumbing, intermodal, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, jitney, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Kitchen Debate, laissez-faire capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, New Urbanism, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, peak oil, pension reform, Peter Calthorpe, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Skype, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, transit-oriented development, union organizing, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, working poor, young professional, Zipcar

The city of Gilbert, starved of property tax revenues, announced it was laying off sixty-seven police officers, even as empty ranch-style houses were being converted into methamphetamine labs. In Maricopa, yet another bank had been knocked over; Phoenix, long known as America’s kidnapping capital, was fast becoming the hot spot for such serial bank robbers as the “Raggedy Ann Robber” and the “Bad Hair Bandit.” As I drove through yet another zombie subdivision of deserted McMansions, where the only other vehicle on the road was a sheriff’s van full of convicts in black-and-white-stripe uniforms, a grim-sounding announcer implored listeners to stay out of abandoned houses, and to report any suspicious activity to the local sheriff. To me, it was the sound of the suburban dream turning into a nightmare. From Garden City to Slumburb Where did all this car-dependent, transit-resistant suburbia come from?

The revival of New York, which many gave up for dead in the ‘70s, was the prototypical urban renaissance, and cities like San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, and Portland never lost their center-city vitality. As the era of cheap fossil fuels that kicked the North American metropolis into a manic state of overdrive comes to an end, the ideology of growth for growth’s sake has also reached its limits. When it comes to houses and cities, bigger is not better. Bigger is more McMansions; bigger is subdivisions so sprawled people never get to know their neighbors; bigger is ever longer, ever more soul-sucking commutes. Bigger is stupider. When I started this journey, the future of smarter transportation in North America looked pretty bright. The way the Obama administration was talking, it sounded as if there was hope for, if not a high-speed rail equivalent of the interstate highway system, at least a transport network more equitably balanced between automobiles and trains.

Edge Cities: Life on the New Frontier. New York: Anchor Books, 1991. Hamilton, Mary Jane. “Frank Lloyd Wright & His Automobiles.” Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly, 21/1 (Winter 2010). Howard, Ebenezer. Garden Cities of To-Morrow. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1965. Jackson, Kenneth T. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Kalita, S. Mitra. “No McMansions for Millennials.” The Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2011. Kotkin, Joel. The New Geography. New York: Random House, 2000. ——. The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. New York: Penguin Books, 2010. Logan, Michael F. Desert Cities: The Environmental History of Phoenix and Tucson. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006. Luckingham, Bradford. Phoenix: The History of a Southwestern Metropolis.


pages: 83 words: 23,805

City 2.0: The Habitat of the Future and How to Get There by Ted Books

active transport: walking or cycling, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, big-box store, carbon footprint, cleantech, collaborative consumption, crowdsourcing, demand response, housing crisis, Induced demand, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, jitney, Kibera, Kickstarter, Kitchen Debate, McMansion, megacity, New Urbanism, openstreetmap, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart grid, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, Zipcar

Jason Roberts, a neighborhood activist in Texas who founded the viral Better Block project, recalls the moment when he and his neighbors realized they had the power to improve their street. “What will change everything is simply getting your community together,” Roberts says in a video on the You + Dallas website. “Have some friends over at your house and talk about the problems in your community, walk out the door, and start creating solutions.” It really is that simple. * * * Notes 1. S.M. Kalita and R. Whelan, “No McMansions for Millennials,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 13, 2011, accessed 19 Jan 2013. 2. A. Loukaitou-Sideris et al., Reclaiming the Right of Way: A Toolkit for Creating and Implementing Parklets, (Los Angeles: UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, 2012). 3. J. King, “SF Parklets a Homegrown Effort,” SFGate, July 9, 2012, accessed Dec. 29, 2012. 4. M. Waggoner, “Walk Raleigh: Students Inspire City Campaigns to Encourage Walking,” Huffington Post, April 11, 2012, accessed Jan. 19, 2013. 5.


pages: 93 words: 24,584

Walk Away by Douglas E. French

business cycle, Elliott wave, forensic accounting, full employment, Home mortgage interest deduction, loss aversion, McMansion, mental accounting, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, New Journalism, Own Your Own Home, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, the market place, transaction costs, unbiased observer, wealth creators

A point that Murray Rothbard made frequently and that investor Doug Casey often makes today is that one of the benefits to American society if the U.S. government repudiated or defaulted on its debt would be that people would think twice about lending it more money. Politicians will waste money with impunity if the government can continually borrow. The same can be said for individuals. Taking on too much debt to live in more house than a person needs (McMansions as they were called in the boom) is a waste of capital. Mortgage debt is unproductive debt. Robert Prechter, owner of the Elliott Wave International writes in his book Conquer the Crash that the lending process for businesses “adds value to the economy,” while consumer loans are counterproductive, adding costs but no value. The banking system, with its focus on consumer loans, has shifted capital from the productive part of the economy, “people who have demonstrated a superior ability to invest or produce (creditors) to those who have demonstrated primarily a superior ability to consume (debtors).”


pages: 287 words: 93,908

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Gail Steketee, Randy Frost

Asperger Syndrome, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, dumpster diving, haute couture, Honoré de Balzac, impulse control, McMansion

They were people who were simply unwilling to part with the beloved treasures that they "might use one day" and that their own homes could no longer accommodate. Alongside this growing appetite for rented storage space, the average house size had increased by 60 percent since 1970—although this trend may be changing since the real estate crash of 2008. Many of these oversize homes, often referred to as "McMansions," also come with their own storage sheds. Perhaps we are becoming a nation of hoarders. A generation earlier, in 1947, the psychoanalyst and humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm forecast a society obsessed with possessions. He argued that humans can be characterized by one of two basic orientations toward the world, "having" or "being." These orientations determine in large part how people think, feel, and act.

Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association. Apartment floor collapses from weight of old magazines. (February 8, 2005). Mainichi Shimbun (Japan). Arndt, J., Solomon, S., Kasser, T., & Sheldon, K. M. (2004). The urge to splurge: A Terror Management account of materialism and consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14, 198–212. Associated Press. (May 24, 2007). The rise of the "McMansions." Daily Hampshire Gazette. Beaglehole, E. (1932). Property: A study in social psychology. New York: Academic Press. Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 139–168. ———. (1991). The ineluctable mysteries of possessions. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 6, 17–55. ———. (1995). Collecting as luxury consumption: Effects on individuals and households.


pages: 318 words: 93,502

The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren, Amelia Warren Tyagi

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, business climate, Columbine, declining real wages, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, financial independence, labor-force participation, late fees, McMansion, mortgage debt, new economy, New Journalism, payday loans, school choice, school vouchers, telemarketer, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

Economists reasoned that the baby boomers were about to become empty nesters, so pressure on the housing market would undergo a sharp reversal. According to these experts, housing prices would reverse their forty-year upward trend and drop during the 1990s and 2000s—anywhere from 10 to 47 percent.24 Of course, the over-consumption critics have a ready explanation for why housing prices shot up despite expert predictions: Americans are bankrupting themselves to buy over-gadgeted, oversized “McMansions.”. Money magazine captures this view: “A generation or so ago . . . a basic, 800-square-foot, $8,000 Levittown box with a carport was heaven. . . . By the 1980s, the dream had gone yupscale. Home had become a 6,000-square-foot contemporary on three acres or a gutted and rehabbed townhouse in a gentrified ghetto.”25 Where did so many people get this impression? Perhaps from the much ballyhooed fact that the average size of a new home has increased by nearly 40 percent over the past generation (though it is still less than 2,200 square feet).26 But before the over-consumption camp declares victory, there are a few more details to consider.

The median owner-occupied home grew from 5.7 rooms in 1975 to 6.1 rooms in the late 1990s— an increase of less than half of a room in more than two decades.28 What was this half a room used for? Was it an “exercise room,” a “media room,” or any of the other exotic uses of space that critics have so widely mocked? No. The data show that most often that extra room was a second bathroom or a third bedroom.29 These are meaningful improvements, to be sure, but the average middle-class family in a six-room house has hardly rocketed to McMansion status. For the Children The finger-waggers missed another vital fact: The rise in housing costs has become a family problem. Home prices have grown across the board (particularly in larger urban areas), but the brunt of the price increases has fallen on families with children. Our analysis shows that the median home value for the average childless couple increased by 26 percent between 1984 and 2001—an impressive rise in less than twenty years.30 (Again, these and all other figures are adjusted for inflation.)


pages: 287 words: 86,870

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Bernie Madoff, big-box store, discrete time, East Village, high net worth, McMansion, Panamax, Pepto Bismol, Ponzi scheme, sovereign wealth fund, white picket fence, Y2K

In that case, the view is of the stagnant trapped water between the palm fronds, as it were, a gaudy row of McMansions shimmering in the heat on the opposite shore. He liked that suite. It was enormous. Vincent spent a lot of time in the hot tub. But no, that’s memory, not the counterlife. Vincent isn’t in the counterlife. He feels it’s important to keep the two separate, memory vs. counterlife, but he’s been finding the separation increasingly difficult. It’s a permeable border. In memory, the air-conditioning was so aggressive that she had trouble keeping warm, which was why she was always in the hot tub, whereas in the counterlife she’s not there at all. In the counterlife he turns away from the view of McMansions and leaves the room, walks out into the wide corridor with its elaborately patterned strip of carpeting, into the elevator made of dark mirrored surfaces, which opens unexpectedly into the lobby of the Hotel Caiette, where Vincent sits with Walter, the night manager, on leather armchairs.


pages: 279 words: 87,875

Underwater: How Our American Dream of Homeownership Became a Nightmare by Ryan Dezember

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, business cycle, call centre, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, coronavirus, corporate raider, COVID-19, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Donald Trump, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, interest rate swap, margin call, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, rent control, rolodex, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, transaction costs

Out-of-towners had shown up to build a faux French Quarter in the woods along the barge channel and were asking big-city prices for tiny lots within walking distances of huge swaths of vacant land. It didn’t make any sense. An old man from Mobile paid nearly a million dollars for a shape-shifting, twelve-and-a-half-acre splotch of sand at the mouth of Perdido Pass and wanted to build thirty or so tiled roofed McMansions on it with docks instead of driveways. Even the public beach in Gulf Shores, the center of gravity along Alabama’s coast, was poised for a dramatic makeover. Bob Shallow’s investor group from south Florida had bought out, to the tune of $20 million, a cluster of small businesses at the public beach in Gulf Shores. They planned residential towers and sidewalk cafés in place of an old motel, a costume jewelry shop, a daiquiri bar, and a dive that was popular with bikers.

Census data show that median household income in the United States was about $63,179 in 2018, up 5 percent, or about $3,100, from 1999 when adjusted for inflation. Over that same period, the inflation-adjusted price of homes rose by more than a third, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Millions of millennials buried in student debt and priced out of ownership spell big trouble for the baby boomers who staked their late-in-life financial health on someone coming along to pay a big price for their McMansions. It’s possible that the big rental investors underestimate how deeply ingrained homeownership is among American aspiration. Plenty of people probably feel like Walt Whitman when he wrote a few years before the Civil War that “a man is not a whole and complete man unless he owns a house and the ground it stands on.” When I was reporting for the Journal on Wall Street’s infatuation with Spring Hill, I spoke with one of McNeilage’s former tenants who seemed like an ideal subject for the story.


pages: 352 words: 96,692

Celebration of Fools: An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenney by Bill Hare

business climate, glass ceiling, haute couture, haute cuisine, McMansion, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, walking around money, women in the workforce

A booming prairie suburb, Plano was bordered on the north by the prime corporate park where JCPenney, EDS, Frito-Lay, and other major companies were relocating. To the south were upscale merchants and restaurateurs whose establishments buffered Plano's core of expensive residential subdivisions—some of which were simply separated from shopping strips by tall, thick brick walls and elaborate landscaping. The houses, on surprisingly small lots, were mainly variations on the Texas Gothic McMansion theme, largely distinct from one another only in scale. These choice properties were filling up all of the remaining suitable land and were mostly celebrated by their new owners—"choice," of course, being a relative term. Compared to Connecticut or the Coast, the new Plano palaces could be had for a song. Therefore, after decades of painful commutes to and from mortgage manors, most high-ranking Penney people considered the move to Texas— engineered by W.

From then on, those in the executive suite increasingly postured as Penney people, paying lip service to HCSC and The Penney Idea while other things dominated their agendas. This culminated in the move to Texas. Running a company built upon the concept of thrift and hard work first, rewards second, the Howell administration tore JCPenney from its roots because they wanted to live in affordable McMansions on golf courses in gated communities. They wanted easy commutes and commodious office suites with custom-made views. They wanted geographic centrality with a good, accessible airport. While the old generations ate, slept, and drank merchandise and stores and put up with any abuse and inconvenience in communion, the Howell crew was dedicated to getting the numbers and driving the stock. The second reason is that however informed and sound it may be, the Castagna/Questrom makeover has a weakness.


pages: 104 words: 34,784

The Trouble With Brunch: Work, Class and the Pursuit of Leisure by Shawn Micallef

big-box store, call centre, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, deindustrialization, ghettoisation, Jane Jacobs, Joan Didion, knowledge worker, liberation theology, Mason jar, McMansion, new economy, post scarcity, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Thorstein Veblen, urban sprawl, World Values Survey

Authors John Joe Schlichtman and Jason Patch examine a tendency in most ‘mainstream’ and ‘critical’ urbanists to ignore their own role in gentrification and middle-class sensibility. Recounting their own stories of moving into older historic neighbourhoods not unlike Kensington Market, they write, ‘There was an aesthetic pull of “sentiment and space” to at least some of our neighborhoods: we have no desire to live in the aesthetic landscape of uniform subdivisions of postwar aluminum-sided ranches or post-Reagan McMansions nor the class homogeneity that often accompanies them.’ Throughout their article, Schlichtman and Patch aren’t arguing that the displacement caused by gentrification isn’t a serious urban problem, nor are they condemning the forces that compel middle-class people with what might as well be called a brunching sensibility. Rather, they’re simply recognizing how some of these very personal choices might be in conflict with blanket anti-gentrification arguments, and that people should consider how the fruits of gentrification can be reconciled with caring about who gets shut out.


pages: 360 words: 113,429

Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence by Rachel Sherman

American ideology, Bernie Sanders, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, estate planning, financial independence, gig economy, high net worth, income inequality, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, mental accounting, NetJets, new economy, Occupy movement, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, school choice, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Spirit Level, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor

These consumers drew especially strong boundaries against this kind of display. Penny told me, “One of the reasons we’re not in the suburbs, I feel like there’s a lot of show of wealth. … I just, kind of, reject a lot of that.” One of the wealthiest women I talked with lived in a house in the suburbs worth over $12 million. She was appalled by the excesses of her neighbors, who lived in what she called a “McMansion.” She told me of her first visit there, lowering her voice, “The gates opened up to this huuuge house. And the play set—like, we don’t have a play set. But, like, a play set in the backyard was, I’m not going to kid you, bigger than this whole room. It was something you would see out of—I don’t know. It was like bigger than a school’s play yard.” She differentiated her own preference by saying, “So there’s some things, like, flashy for the sake of flash, or big for the sake of big.

She said, “I mean, obviously I think we have a large apartment by a lot of New York standards, but, you know, it’s not got pillars and a curved driveway.” “Pillars and a curved driveway” are rarely seen in New York City; they are an iconic image of wealth in the social imaginary, just as the trailer park described in chapter 1 is an iconic image of poverty. Invoking these comparisons, whether to imaginary rich people or to their actual McMansion-dwelling neighbors, my respondents situated themselves in the symbolically-middle, legitimate space of reasonableness. In making these comparisons, my interviewees subordinated having to showing. That is, having is acceptable as long as it is not shown (or shown off) in particular ways. Yet they faced the possibility of seeming to “show off” in relation to people with less, including coworkers, family, friends, other parents, and household workers.


pages: 134 words: 41,085

The Wake-Up Call: Why the Pandemic Has Exposed the Weakness of the West, and How to Fix It by John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge

Admiral Zheng, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, Corn Laws, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Etonian, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, global pandemic, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jones Act, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, McMansion, night-watchman state, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parkinson's law, pensions crisis, QR code, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, trade route, universal basic income, Washington Consensus

MAKE GOVERNMENT DOWDY Prime Minister Gladstone was so bent on saving money that he told his government to use cheaper writing paper. In Abraham Lincoln’s time, Washington was a small southern town that was regarded as a hardship posting for diplomats (you got paid more to serve in the swampy summer). Now it has become one of the richest zip codes in the country, with Ritz Carltons, Tiffanys, McMansions, and Morton’s steak houses spilling into the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. Politicians who used to rush back to their hometowns when they finished their political careers now routinely stay on in the capital as lobbyists and “advisers.” The presidency has become ever more imperial. Presidents sweep through Washington, DC, in giant motorcades. They fly around the world in a personalized jumbo jet.


pages: 435 words: 127,403

Panderer to Power by Frederick Sheehan

"Robert Solow", Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, buy and hold, call centre, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, diversification, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, inventory management, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, margin call, market bubble, McMansion, Menlo Park, money market fund, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, Norman Mailer, Northern Rock, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, place-making, Ponzi scheme, price stability, reserve currency, rising living standards, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, savings glut, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South Sea Bubble, stocks for the long run, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, VA Linux, Y2K, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

Shapiro, “The Boontown Mirage,” New York Times, April 6, 2008. 45 At least, according to foreclosures.roost.com. on June 23, 2009: “There are 1042 homes that are up for auction at an average auction price of $172.” David Rosenberg, then Merrill Lynch’s chief North American economist, observed, “[T]he bottom line is that all those McMansions [the 4,000 or 5,000-square-foot houses] that were bought during this housing boom are going to go the way of the 1973 Lincoln Continental.” Rosenberg went on to say the “housing bubble was the most overowned, overleveraged and oversupplied real-estate market ever and its unwinding will take years.”48 The McMansions are and will continue to draw energy like a 1973 Lincoln Continental. The average new house had grown from 1,500 square feet in 1970 to nearly 2,400 square feet in 2004; 90 percent of new houses in 2004 were equipped with central air conditioning.49 The houses were getting bigger, but they were not big enough.


pages: 677 words: 121,255

Giving the Devil His Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist by Michael Shermer

Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-communist, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, Chelsea Manning, clean water, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, creative destruction, dark matter, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, gun show loophole, Hans Rosling, hedonic treadmill, helicopter parent, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, income inequality, invisible hand, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, Laplace demon, luminiferous ether, McMansion, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, moral hazard, moral panic, More Guns, Less Crime, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, positional goods, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, WikiLeaks, working poor, Yogi Berra

In like manner, Frank continues by example, the Brobdingnagian rack of antlers on the North American bull elk may intimidate other males competing for status and mates, but it endangers the species by decreasing efficiency of escape from wolves and other predators through thickly branched forests in which said rack would become entangled. This principle of individual success versus collective failure is so important to Frank that he goes so far as to predict that his fellow economists will, in time, come to see Charles Darwin as the most important economist in history. The human analogue of tails and antlers for Frank are McMansion homes, expensive business suits, high-heel shoes, and extravagant coming-of-age parties. Much of his thinking here is derived from research conducted by behavioral economists, who report that relative position on the economic ladder – “positional rank” – matters more than absolute value to most people. Once you have a roof over your head and three square meals a day, it doesn’t matter how much more money you make above basic needs as long as it is equal to or exceeds that of your neighbors.

The University of New Mexico evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller makes a strong case for just such selective effects in his book The Mating Mind.20 Sexual selection, he argues, has driven organisms from bowerbirds to brainy bohemians to engage in the creative production of magnificent works in order to attract mates – from big blue bowerbird nests to big-brained orchestral music, epic poems, stirring literature, and even scientific discoveries. Those organisms that do so most effectively leave behind more offspring and thus pass on their creative genes into future generations. Thus, contrary to what Frank argues, a viable case can be made that the evolutionary arms races he so detests – men’s suits, women’s high heels, McMansion homes, and elaborate coming-of-age parties – are products of a larger system that drives our species to be so successful. By carrying out the biological analogy into political policy, if anything we should be rewarding the most ostentatious displays of power, prestige, wealth, creativity, health, vigor, and intelligence with tax breaks and even subsidies! At the very least, one could argue that a consumption tax on the rich could very well backfire and reduce the reproductive success of our species by attenuating the creative productivity that has given us so much of our culture that we cherish.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the sewing machine, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, undersea cable, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism, yield management

A total of 650,000 apparel jobs disappeared in the ten-year period 1997–2007, the prime period when the supply of imports from China multiplied so rapidly. The differences of wages, and the lack of difference of productivity, made the shift to Asian imports inevitable: When everybody went offshore to the Orient, we opened Pandora’s box. After that, you couldn’t manufacture clothing without being in Asia. You can never shut that box and say we can go back to where we were. It’s open. It’s done. It’s finished.32 FROM LEVITTOWN TO MCMANSIONS: THE POSTWAR EVOLUTION OF HOUSING By 1940, the American housing stock had advanced a long way from the simple, isolated dwellings of 1870. Urban housing units by 1940 were networked with the five basics of electricity, gas, telephone, running water, and sewers. None of this existed in 1870, except for gas and water in a few upscale urban neighborhoods. The rest of this chapter chronicles the further transformation of American housing from 1940 to 2015.

The soaring real value per unit reflects a change in the mix of housing units toward relatively large houses in the top third of houses constructed, a shift toward larger size missed by the data on median square feet and median sales price. The increase in the real value compared to median sales price mainly seemed to happen in the 1980s. In the twenty-five years after 1990, the size of the median single-family house continued to creep higher, reaching 1,900 square feet in 1990 and 2,364 square feet in 2013. Half the houses by definition were larger than the median, and the largest became known as “McMansions”—both those in older suburban neighborhoods, where they replaced smaller “teardowns,” and those in remote, often gated, communities on the fringes of metropolitan areas. Between 1992 and 2013, the fraction of newly constructed homes with four bedrooms or more increased from 29 percent to 44 percent, of those with three bathrooms or more from 14 percent to 33 percent, and of those with a garage holding three or more cars from 11 percent to 21 percent.36 The trajectory of house prices up for most of the postwar period and down after the 2006 peak of the 2001–6 housing price bubble has split the generations in their amount of wealth.

The core buildings in New York’s Rockefeller Center are now eighty-five years old. Most residential structures last almost forever, and the topography of urban and suburban America allows the tracing of the transition from the Georgian townhouses of the early nineteenth century to the Queen Anne Victorians of 1880–1900 to tiny and forbidding Levittown structures of the early postwar years to the McMansions of today. Most residential construction has been on new sites, and relatively little has been torn down.6 Structures last for a long time, but the life of equipment is shorter—and the implication of this leads inexorably to the conclusion that the “user cost” of equipment capital is much higher than for structures simply because equipment does not last as long and thus has a higher depreciation rate.


pages: 140 words: 47,093

So Sad Today: Personal Essays by Melissa Broder

East Village, feminist movement, Google Hangouts, McMansion, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

I’ve had sex with enough gross people that I feel like I should have gotten paid for most of them. While I’ve never gotten paid for having sex with any gross people, I have been a sex worker of sorts. My first office job was as the administrative assistant of a Tantric sex nonprofit, which we’ll call “Electric Yoni.” Such places exist, and they exist just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, through the rainbow tunnel, where McMansions meet divination on Highway 1, Marin County, California. I arrived at the job fresh off four years of psychedelics, deep in woo-woo, talking about energy, the Tao, and telekinesis—believing that an outside fix, an amethyst crystal, the proper measurement of snake oil could save me from myself. Every day I commuted back and forth from my apartment overlooking a crack dealer who swung a golf club in the lower Tenderloin, San Francisco, over that bridge, feeling sort of blessed and sort of miserable.


pages: 518 words: 143,914

God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World by John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge

affirmative action, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Bonfire of the Vanities, Boris Johnson, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, David Brooks, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, global supply chain, God and Mammon, hiring and firing, industrial cluster, intangible asset, invisible hand, Iridium satellite, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, knowledge economy, liberation theology, low skilled workers, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, new economy, oil shock, Peace of Westphalia, Robert Bork, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Silicon Valley, stem cell, supply-chain management, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus

And while Continental Europe celebrates social solidarity and Asia values extended family ties, Americans fall back on themselves: they spend some $700 million on self-help books every year.16 The United States is the first country in history to classify more than half its population as suburban. That brings every material convenience from two-car garages to spacious rec rooms. But suburbs can also display a soul-destroying homogeneity—from the cookie-cutter McMansions to the anonymous big-box discount stores. Three decades ago Jane Jacobs, an admirer of traditional cities, observed that “every place becomes more like every other place, all adding up to Noplace.”17 Tom Wolfe remarked in A Man in Full (1998) that “the only way you could tell you were leaving one community and entering another was when the franchises started repeating and you spotted another 7-Eleven, another Wendy’s, another Costco, another Home Depot.”

This has a lot to do with the general upward mobility of the Evangelical community. “Evangelical” is no longer a code word for an uneducated hick. The more that business tycoons and national celebrities are willing to identify themselves as Evangelical, the more rank-and-file workers are happy to attend Bible groups and talk openly about their faith. THE PHILADELPHIA STORΥ If religion seems to work in the McMansions and office suites, it also addresses very different issues at the other end of American society. Philadelphia is about as different as you can get from Houston or Colorado Springs—a proud Northeastern city that is steeped in American history and divided into long-established neighborhoods. If Houston’s problem is unrestrained growth, Philadelphia’s is relentless decline. The city’s earlier preeminence drained away as political power shifted to Washington, DC (thanks to a political deal), and financial power shifted to New York (thanks in part to Andrew Jackson’s refusal to recharter the Second Bank of the United States).


pages: 173 words: 54,729

Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action That Changed America by Writers For The 99%

Bay Area Rapid Transit, citizen journalism, collective bargaining, desegregation, feminist movement, income inequality, McMansion, Mohammed Bouazizi, Occupy movement, Port of Oakland, We are the 99%, young professional

One cold day in November, amid the cacophony of unsanctioned drumming and Reverend Billy’s protest against Goldman Sachs, a suburban couple, both pediatricians with three kids, explained that they had come to attend the General Assembly meeting. Though many in their Westchester town had lowered their flags to half-mast when Barack Obama was elected president, Ivanya Alpert and her husband, Dmitri Laddis, see Occupy as a sign that a more promising politics is emerging. They are tired of their kids’ class sizes growing, due to budget cuts, as rapidly as their neighbors expand their McMansions. Their local public pool was sold off to a private bidder because the town couldn’t afford to keep it open every summer. Alpert and Laddis spent their one date night of the year in Zuccotti Park. A group called Parents for Occupy Wall Street, which began with a Family Sleep-Over in Zuccotti Park in October, quickly became a national phenomenon, reaching as far as Honolulu. Founded by 25-year-old Brooklyn music industry entrepreneur Kirby Desmarais, the mother of a 19-month old daughter, the group will go on tour in 2012, to educate fellow parents about the OWS movement.


pages: 197 words: 53,292

Isn't That Rich?: Life Among the 1 Percent by Richard Kirshenbaum, Michael Gross

Downton Abbey, McMansion, New Journalism, rolodex, women in the workforce

While some friends remain passionate about the surfing lessons, the $100-a-pound lobster salad (from you know where), and the purple-streaked Sagaponack sunsets, there is a distinct group of people using their Hamptons estates less and less, with no plans either to sell or rent. “Whole neighborhoods are on timers,” said a busy housesitter I ran into in the local hardware store. “At nine fifteen, it lights up like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.” As Dana and I were driving home from the party, we passed by a neighbor’s house, a recently assembled McMansion with turreted peaks and outsize turn-of-the-century demilune windows. “Have you ever met them?” Dana asked me. I recalled popping by with a bottle of French rosé when the couple first moved in. “Yeah,” I said, “when I took over the housewarming gift.” “I’ve never met them.” She shrugged, turning onto our property. “It’s a little weird, given they bought the house five years ago and they live only a few houses down.”


pages: 444 words: 151,136

Endless Money: The Moral Hazards of Socialism by William Baker, Addison Wiggin

Andy Kessler, asset allocation, backtesting, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, break the buck, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, commoditize, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, debt deflation, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, fiat currency, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, housing crisis, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, McMansion, mega-rich, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, naked short selling, negative equity, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, reserve currency, riskless arbitrage, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Jobs, stocks for the long run, The Great Moderation, the scientific method, time value of money, too big to fail, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Yogi Berra, young professional

Although the clock could never be turned back, the societal impact that modern birth control (and abortion) had upon family formation and savings has been subversive. Affluent baby boomers uniquely would worship at the alter of consumption early in life, deferring marriage. Then, thanks to government policies that subsidized housing in multiple ways, they would stretch already thin balance sheets to invest in McMansions and second homes that carried mortgages payable well into old age. The more plebeian of that generation would not miss out either, leasing cars, maxing out credit cards, and eventually grabbing for the brass ring through variable rate interestonly primary mortgages augmented with home equity loans that could extract any accumulation of net worth to be devoted to more pleasurable ends. Character in the Victorian sense is obsolete; so to pick up the pieces from the financial meltdown we are choosing to embark on an orgy of fiscal stimulus, national debt accumulation, and taxation of the entrepreneurial class, which has been the locomotive of our good fortune.

That generation’s pursuit of chemical and sexual pleasure along with yuppie-charged reaching for the brass ring was a confluence of factors that significantly delayed the establishment Self-Indulgence 313 of families for the first time in human history; this has perpetuated youth and delayed the age-old constraints of adulthood. We are now feeling the reverberations in Social Security, the demographic implosion of Europe, Russia, and even China (with its one child limitation). It may even partly explain why the mortgage crisis occurred in the present time, for late family formation of the baby boomers along with the worship of material gain led to the McMansion craze as this generation hit its peak income level of 50-something. How many 30-year mortgages were purveyed to 45-year-olds who have inadequately saved (consuming through their extended youth) but plan to retire at age 65, much less fund college tuitions in their golden years? Like the wonderful mental elevation experienced from the first hit off a sensimellia-filled bong or the snort of a line of cocaine, the “me” generation hopes for immediate gratification.


Small Space Organizing: A Room by Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space by Kathryn Bechen

estate planning, index card, McMansion, new economy, Pepto Bismol

And according to the Wall Street Journal in 2009, for the first time in twenty-seven years, home buyers opted for smaller homes. CNN Money reports 7 percent smaller—or one average-sized room. We’re rethinking whether or not we really want a huge home, a big yard, and all the “stuff” that goes with that lifestyle. Do you? I can comfortably say, I don’t. You see, I can admire beautifully designed and decorated “McMansions” with the best of them. I have toured and written about them, organized them for clients, and had close friends and colleagues who live in them. But I also know, from hearing the comments of homeowners who dwell in large houses, that the cost—economically, personally, and professionally—of paying for, cleaning, and maintaining a big home can be phenomenally restrictive rather than life-enhancing, at least for some people.


Affluenza: When Too Much Is Never Enough by Clive Hamilton, Richard Denniss

call centre, delayed gratification, experimental subject, full employment, hedonic treadmill, impulse control, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, mega-rich, Naomi Klein, Own Your Own Home, post-materialism, post-work, purchasing power parity, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, wage slave

Today, though, newspapers, commentators and political leaders speak as though the 135 AFFLUENZA imagined financial difficulties of the wealthy are the result of hard times rather than inflated expectations. The problem then becomes a matter of public concern. The real concerns of yesterday’s poor have become the imagined concerns of today’s rich. Struggle Street, it seems, has become crowded; the trouble is the new residents want to build McMansions there. One effect of this conflation of the poorest citizens’ circumstances with those of the wealthy majority is to reinforce a widespread belief that times are difficult—despite the fact that we are richer than we have ever been and much richer than the vast majority of people in the world. Deprivation syndrome persuades politicians to distort policy to ‘reduce the burden of taxation’ and to increase welfare payments to middle-class households that are living lives that would, in other places and at other times, be regarded as luxurious.


Playing With FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early): How Far Would You Go for Financial Freedom? by Scott Rieckens, Mr. Money Mustache

Airbnb, cryptocurrency, effective altruism, financial independence, index fund, job satisfaction, McMansion, passive income, remote working, Vanguard fund

It’s about finding meaning outside of work and using money as a tool — I like to picture it as a lasso — to harness that meaning in daily life. This is the beauty of FIRE: Once you see how “stuck” that luxurious, consumeristic life is, you can’t unsee it. In fact, you notice it everywhere you look: the obligatory holiday parties, the roadside billboards for car financing, bumper-to-bumper commuter traffic, the new McMansion development down the road, the melancholy that sets in every Sunday evening. Likewise, once you taste a truly free life, untethered to a schedule or a paycheck or a career ladder, you can’t untaste it. Once you ask yourself the most important questions — What do I want to do with my time, and what makes me happiest? — you can’t ignore the answers. I hope you’ll consider applying the FIRE framework to your own life and feel compelled to connect with this amazing community.


pages: 179 words: 59,704

Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames

"side hustle", Airbnb, asset allocation, barriers to entry, basic income, buy and hold, carbon footprint, delayed gratification, dumpster diving, East Village, financial independence, hedonic treadmill, IKEA effect, index fund, indoor plumbing, loss aversion, McMansion, mortgage debt, passive income, payday loans, risk tolerance, Stanford marshmallow experiment, universal basic income, working poor

Based on the facts that, at the time, over 65 percent of units in Cambridge were rented and rental prices in the area were high and climbing higher, we’d hatched a plan to someday flip whatever we bought into a rental property. And this house, located in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Inman Square, was ideal because it was a rare exception: a single-family home with two stories and a basement, four bedrooms, two baths, and over 1,600 square feet. It was, by Cambridge standards, a McMansion. It was also ugly, had negative curb appeal, was located behind what had formerly been a crack den (not in a hyperbolic sense), and it showed like something out of a ’70s sitcom that never made it past the pilot episode. I’m talking lace doilies on every surface, enough bleeding crucifixes to scare the former Catholic in me, and family photos covering so much wall space I could barely tell what the living room paint color was (probably for the best, as it turned out).


pages: 363 words: 11,523

The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat: How to Buy, Cut, and Cook Great Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry, and More by Joshua Applestone, Jessica Applestone, Alexandra Zissu

back-to-the-land, carbon footprint, Community Supported Agriculture, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, mass immigration, McMansion, refrigerator car, Upton Sinclair

The unfathomable numbers of animals currently raised as food are not part of any natural ecosystem. Livestock aren’t the same 24 thing as wild animals. If we didn’t want them for dinner, they wouldn’t be here. And if we released them all into the wild in a mass vegan fantasy, they wouldn’t survive. This is an important thing to understand. Also important: no matter how you raise them, livestock, like McMansions, aren’t the most environmentally friendly things going. They require a lot of water, food, and land. They create greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming. But most Americans aren’t going to stop eating meat entirely. And the argument can be made that tofu from pesticide-intensive, genetically modified soy crops isn’t hugely eco, either. There are ways for carnivores to drastically lower the impact of what’s on their plates.


pages: 233 words: 64,479

The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife by Marc Freedman

airport security, Berlin Wall, David Brooks, follow your passion, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, longitudinal study, McMansion, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, transcontinental railway, working poor, working-age population

Andersen suggests that we are in the aftermath of what might be characterized as the bloating of America, a mass overextension that occurred between 1980 and the late 2000s. Mortgages mushroomed, debt ballooned, and our houses expanded, along with our waistlines. We could easily add the golden years to the package, as they went from an assumedly brief proposition at the end of life, a well-earned respite, to a thirty-year McMansion of a stage, inflated until it literally constituted the second half of adulthood. But it became both unattainable, for most individuals, and unsustainable, for a society soon to have more people over sixty than under fifteen. (And we’re relatively young in the community of nations—Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, and Spain will see over-sixty populations approaching or exceeding 40 percent by the middle of the twenty-first century.)


pages: 272 words: 64,626

Eat People: And Other Unapologetic Rules for Game-Changing Entrepreneurs by Andy Kessler

23andMe, Andy Kessler, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, British Empire, business cycle, business process, California gold rush, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, disintermediation, Douglas Engelbart, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fiat currency, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, George Gilder, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, income inequality, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Netflix Prize, packet switching, personalized medicine, pets.com, prediction markets, pre–internet, profit motive, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, social graph, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, transfer pricing, wealth creators, Yogi Berra

Human nature and deadly sins and all—or is it adolescence? But slowing progress in the name of jealousy is almost criminal; even jealous tendencies are a lame excuse. Self-loathing and an “I’m not worthy” attitude is probably more like it—other adolescent emotions. But then I see another, more adult, emotion—nostalgia. Ah, remember how simple life used to be. We don’t need progress and financial derivatives and horizontal drilling and McMansions and fully loaded Hummers (though we’ll keep the Apple iPad). Let’s go back to the old days, and simpler times. Or maybe it’s a Homo erectus tribal instinct. Maybe we have collectivism, a “we’re all in this together”/ fraternité/égalité, in our DNA. I had the privilege of visiting Israel with my grandfather in the 1970s as a twelve-year-old. One of the stops was an overnight stay at a kibbutz, a collectivist farming enclave.


pages: 200 words: 64,050

I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories From the Edge of 50 by Annabelle Gurwitch

McMansion, Saturday Night Live, Steve Jobs, urban planning, zero-sum game

In the same way that high levels of lead in pottery have been linked to the decline of the Roman Empire, I would venture to say that our exhaustive fascination with celebrilites heralds the decline of Western civilization more than even the popularity of Funyuns.* A small accomplishment I celebrate is that in my forty-nine years I have yet to invite cameras to document me splashing white wine on the masklike face of a celebrilite in a cookie-cutter McMansion. Two days later I hear I have gotten a callback for the DirecTV spot. This one is mine, I’m confident. All I have to do is stand in a kitchen and rub my nose. I’ve stood in kitchens. I’ve rubbed my nose. Many times. I expect to rub it again in the future, so why not with a camera rolling? At the callback, a group of thirty actresses in my category are corralled into a holding area. At least three of us are wearing identical red polka-dotted dresses.


Once the American Dream: Inner-Ring Suburbs of the Metropolitan United States by Bernadette Hanlon

big-box store, correlation coefficient, deindustrialization, desegregation, edge city, feminist movement, housing crisis, illegal immigration, informal economy, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, manufacturing employment, McMansion, New Urbanism, Silicon Valley, statistical model, The Chicago School, transit-oriented development, urban sprawl, white flight, working-age population, zero-sum game

Such newspaper headlines as “Suburban Poverty: Economy Brings Increased Need for Help” (McClellan-Copeland 2008), “Suburbs’ Grass Isn’t Always Greener” (Nasser 2004), and “Suburbs Nearer to Cities Neglected” (Ohlemacher 2006) are more common than ever. In the words of Mark Baldassare (1986), there is “trouble in paradise.” Suburbia, at one time built solely for the elite of society and later the middle class, now includes a mix of people from the very rich to the very poor. Over two centuries of development, suburbia has evolved into a new reality that includes continued growth and prosperity and decline and poverty. Gated communities, McMansions, and the supersize subdivision exist alongside much poorer suburbs struggling with issues of blight, fiscal stress, income decline, increasing poverty, and Decline Is a New Suburban Reality / 13 housing deterioration. In this chapter, I examine the evolution of this suburban dichotomy. The problem of suburban decline, particularly as it relates to inner-ring suburbs, is one side of this dichotomy and the primary focus of this chapter.


pages: 265 words: 74,000

The Numerati by Stephen Baker

Berlin Wall, Black Swan, business process, call centre, correlation does not imply causation, Drosophila, full employment, illegal immigration, index card, Isaac Newton, job automation, job satisfaction, McMansion, Myron Scholes, natural language processing, PageRank, personalized medicine, recommendation engine, RFID, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Now, as I talk to him, he's attempting to resuscitate an education start-up in New York, from offices high above Wall Street. But he's eager to get back to working in government. Naturally, the key is to find more people in the U.S. population who could conceivably vote for a Democratic candidate and to come up with just the right pitch for each voter. The trouble, he believes, is that millions of potential Democrats are camouflaged. For one reason or another, they pass for Republican voters. Some live in McMansions with fairway views and drive Hummers. Some no doubt carry weapons, revere the military, or spend much of their free time praying. Others are staying hidden because they haven't been much impressed to date by Democratic candidates. To turn these people into Democratic voters, Gotbaum says, his party needs to surpass the Republicans in pinpointing potential supporters from within massive databases.


pages: 268 words: 76,709

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by Barry Estabrook

Bernie Sanders, biofilm, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, McMansion, medical malpractice, old-boy network, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

A spry, avuncular octogenarian with an acute mind and an almost extrasensory ability to read people, Procacci divides his time between the Philadelphia area, where the company is headquartered, and Naples, Florida, where he lives in The Vineyards, a self-contained minicity complete with golf courses, schools, and a hospital. The Vineyards was one of his tomato fields until the mid-1980s, when he and his brother decided that the ground would be more profitable if they put in a crop of McMansions and swimming pools. Procacci, the son of Italian immigrants, has been in the produce business since 1935. Then eight years old, he came home from school in Camden, New Jersey, to see a loaded vegetable push cart in front of the family house. “Don’t come home until you’ve sold everything,” his father ordered. It’s a maxim that Procacci has applied every working day of his life over the last three-quarters of a century as he built up his multimillion-dollar produce conglomerate.


pages: 256 words: 76,433

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline

big-box store, business cycle, clean water, East Village, feminist movement, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the sewing machine, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, megacity, race to the bottom, Skype, special economic zone, trade liberalization, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, upwardly mobile, Veblen good

The First Thanksgiving, “Daily Life: Clothes,” Scholastic.com, www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/daily_life/clothes.htm. 7. Jan Whitaker, Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006), 55, 66. 8. Neil Reynolds, “Goodwill May be Stunting African Growth,” Globe and Mail, December 24, 2008. 9. Christopher Solomon, “The Swelling McMansion Backlash,” MSN.com, http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=13107733. 10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditures 2010, www.bls.gov/news.release/cesan.nr0.htm. 11. Eben Shapiro, “Few Riches in Rags These Days,” New York Times, January 5, 1991. 12. “Corporations: Jumpers at Jonathan Logan,” Time, August 31, 1962. 13. Mark Miller, Jerry Adler, with Daniel McGinn, “Isaac Hits His Target,” Newsweek, October 27, 2003. 14.


pages: 200 words: 72,182

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

business process, full employment, housing crisis, income inequality, McMansion, place-making, post-work, sexual politics, telemarketer, union organizing, wage slave, women in the workforce, working poor, zero day

You don't need a degree in economics to see that wages are too low and rents too high. The problem of rents is easy for a noneconomist, even a sparsely educated low-wage worker, to grasp: it's the market, stupid. When the rich and the poor compete for housing on the open market, the poor don't stand a chance. The rich can always outbid them, buy up their tenements or trailer parks, and replace them with condos, McMansions, golf courses, or whatever they like. Since the rich have become more numerous, thanks largely to rising stock prices and executive salaries, the poor have necessarily been forced into housing that is more expensive, more dilapidated, or more distant from their places of work. Recall that in Key West, the trailer park convenient to hotel jobs was charging $625 a month for a half-size trailer, forcing low-wage workers to search for housing farther and farther away in less fashionable keys.


pages: 267 words: 78,857

Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff by Dinah Sanders

A. Roger Ekirch, Atul Gawande, big-box store, Boris Johnson, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwatching, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, credit crunch, endowment effect, Firefox, game design, Inbox Zero, income per capita, index card, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, Kevin Kelly, late fees, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, Merlin Mann, post-work, side project, Silicon Valley, Stewart Brand

Even if a car is a requirement for you right now, keep an eye on how you use it and see if you could drive it less or share rides more. Why be where what you want or need to be doing isn’t? When we’re thinking about relying less on cars, we are reminded that it’s time to start an even bigger “letting go” in much of the western world. We rich nations have got to say farewell to the strange notion that has gripped us for the last half century: our suburban life style—with its two-car garage, McMansions, lawns in the desert, strip malls, and daily auto errands—is unsustainable. There's never going to be more oil or natural gas readily available than there is now. Suburbia relies on these energy sources for its residents to be able to get to shops or work and to heat or cool their very large homes as well as to build the homes and the accoutrements associated with this lifestyle. More than that, though, is it really such a great lifestyle?


pages: 280 words: 79,029

Smart Money: How High-Stakes Financial Innovation Is Reshaping Our WorldÑFor the Better by Andrew Palmer

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, bonus culture, break the buck, Bretton Woods, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, family office, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Innovator's Dilemma, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, longitudinal study, loss aversion, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Network effects, Northern Rock, obamacare, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, Thales of Miletus, transaction costs, Tunguska event, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Vanguard fund, web application

The cancer megafund is an idea at the start of its life rather than one that has been thrashed to within an inch of it. Asset classes have to get very big before they can have an impact on the financial system as a whole, let alone potentially require the taxpayer to step in when things go wrong. And even if you do fret about speculative excess, he says, better that investors’ animal spirits are directed toward solving the biggest social issues than to funding the purchase of McMansions. But he is alive to the potential dangers of securitization. For example, the benefits of diversification come about only if assets in the fund genuinely do not all rise and fall together—in the jargon, if they are “noncorrelated.” Putting your money into a basket of equities spreads your risk across a lot of different companies, but that isn’t much help if the whole stock market tanks; investing in mortgages across the United States is all very well unless there is a national downturn.


pages: 259 words: 73,193

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris

4chan, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Burning Man, Carrington event, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation, en.wikipedia.org, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Google Glasses, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, Loebner Prize, low earth orbit, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, moral panic, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, pre–internet, Republic of Letters, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social web, Steve Jobs, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test

Soon I’ll be one of those people who stop to chat with petitioners at Broadway and Granville. P.S. I now read newspapers. August 22 We just can’t handle solitude without a rich interior life. At first there was this bewildering, wind-swept void where my online world had been. Now, haltingly, I place other things in that void. A book. A walk through Shaughnessy to monitor the construction of various McMansions I have my eye on. But, of course, nothing—nothing—is as enthralling as the lovely, comforting, absence-destroying Internet. You can’t really revert to a prior state of mind because (as Nicholas Carr points out) our brains may be changeable and plastic, but they aren’t necessarily elastic. My online mind waits angrily for its food. August 23 My tolerance toward interruption has plummeted.


pages: 256 words: 15,765

The New Elite: Inside the Minds of the Truly Wealthy by Dr. Jim Taylor

British Empire, business cycle, call centre, dark matter, Donald Trump, estate planning, full employment, glass ceiling, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, means of production, passive income, performance metric, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ronald Reagan, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Reality: Less than half describe themselves as being on the cutting edge of fashion, and Tab le 5- 5 R ea so ns gi ve n f or au to mo bi le pu rc ha se s Reason % Responses Needed to replace or update one I currently owned 55 Wanted to upgrade relative to what I had 23 My automobile requirements had changed, so I wanted a car to serve that 19 Wanted a treat/reward for myself 16 Read an article about it 9 Was just browsing, saw it, and wanted it 8 Saw an ad that made me want it 6 Saw someone else with this particular car or heard others talking about it 5 Money Matters 81 even fewer try to stay on top of seasonal fashion trends. Less than 30 percent look to celebrities or athletes for ideas of apparel or products. They tend to prefer basic colors and classically tasteful styles, but being too fashion-forward draws unnecessary attention to themselves; moreover, it is largely inconsistent with their middle-class comfort zone and the principle of stealth wealth. Myth: The wealthy live in mansions, or at least McMansions. Reality: A small minority live in palatial estates, but most live in houses that are better described as spacious but modest. The average value of their main residences is about $2 million, with the median being closer to $1.2 million. Depending on your background and where you live, that may sound like a lot. And certainly in some parts of the country, that kind of money can indeed buy a palatial estate.


pages: 280 words: 75,820

Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher

Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Build a better mousetrap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, fundamental attribution error, Isaac Newton, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, music of the spheres, Nelson Mandela, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Walter Mischel, zero-sum game

Yet some sobering research shows that, pulled into their own little worlds by an individualistic me-first culture and accelerating demands on their attention, American couples and families often fall short in this regard. Particularly in times of social and economic turmoil, we’re reminded that not only as individuals but also as members of a society we choose to focus on certain targets and suppress others: risky profits or steady savings; McMansions or “green” homes; multilateralism or unilateralism; SUVs or mass transit; celebrity or character. As the nation faces crises in the economy, the environment, international affairs, and other vital areas, we can no longer afford to indulge in the kind of collective ADHD that’s symbolized by President Ronald Reagan’s removal of the solar panels that President Jimmy Carter had installed in the White House during an energy crisis thirty years ago.


pages: 225 words: 71,912

So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know by Retta

centre right, Downton Abbey, McMansion, pink-collar, Skype, Snapchat

I’m in a place now where I make enough money that I can get what I want when I want it, not miss my mortgage payment, help my parents, pay my reps their 10 percent, and still have money in the bank. I don’t want a Rolls-Royce. I don’t need a jet. I don’t need a place in the Alps. Those aren’t the things I want. I want to go out for dinner and I want to go on vacation. I don’t need a giant mansion. I’d be cool with a McMansion. It’d have to be a manageable enough size that I could afford to pay someone to keep it clean. I do, however, want a claw-foot tub. Scratch that. I like the look of a clawfoot tub but I don’t want to fuck around with getting in and out of one. No sense in bustin’ my ass when all I want is a good soak. I’d prefer a sunken oversize Jacuzzi tub that I can easily step into. I saw in a magazine once that they make double-paned glass walls with crystals inside so that when you flip a switch the crystals rotate and the glass becomes opaque.


pages: 242 words: 73,728

Give People Money by Annie Lowrey

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, airport security, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, full employment, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Earth, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, indoor plumbing, information asymmetry, Jaron Lanier, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, late capitalism, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, McMansion, Menlo Park, mobile money, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, obamacare, Peter Thiel, post scarcity, post-work, Potemkin village, precariat, randomized controlled trial, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, theory of mind, total factor productivity, Turing test, two tier labour market, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, uranium enrichment, War on Poverty, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey, Y Combinator

In all of those countries, a higher proportion of women are working than in the United States. This change is unheralded but dramatic: the United States’ female labor participation rate has fallen from sixth among twenty-two OECD countries to seventeenth between 1990 and 2010. * * * After dropping Karla off at her special-education school, Giron went to go see the three clients she had that day. Her first stop was at a tidy McMansion near the Hoover Dam, nestled in a desert neighborhood with startling jewel-green lawns. Her elderly client had had two strokes and uses a walker. “He has a lot of trouble balancing and walking,” Giron said. “If I don’t go and give him a bath, he doesn’t get a bath.” On this now-bright morning, she bathed him and changed his sheets, popping her third load of laundry of the day into a washing machine.


pages: 251 words: 76,128

Borrow: The American Way of Debt by Louis Hyman

asset-backed security, barriers to entry, big-box store, business cycle, cashless society, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, deindustrialization, deskilling, diversified portfolio, financial innovation, Ford paid five dollars a day, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, market bubble, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, new economy, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, Ronald Reagan, statistical model, technology bubble, transaction costs, women in the workforce

Unlike private credit-rating agencies, the bureau’s future would not depend on giving businesses a good review. With a diversified portfolio of business investments, risks for investors would go down. Business investment wouldn’t be the province of a few millionaires and their private equity; it could be done by average Joes with their pension funds. How much better would the world be if workers’ pension funds were invested in activities that produced jobs instead of McMansions? Regulation doesn’t need to tell firms what to do, but it does need to provide the transparency for investors to act wisely and to help markets make technological transitions when there is a great deal of change. U.S. housing markets continue to require Fannie and Freddie and Ginnie to clear their secondary markets. Public institutions, such as Bobby Mac, would make private solutions possible.


pages: 220 words: 74,713

Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir by Wednesday Martin Ph.d.

delayed gratification, haute couture, McMansion, stem cell

By the time the next baby rolled around, you had a four-year-old to help out a bit with the newborn. But put women on farms, a drastically more sedentary state of affairs than gathering, and make calories more plentiful, and you quickly ratchet up body fat levels—and fertility. This lifestyle, with its hallmark monthly menses, stuck with us when we moved out of the fields and farmhouses and into the malls and McMansions and apartment buildings, of course. And so babies spaced a couple of years apart became the norm. This is why, in every town in America, you see mom pushing her tiny baby in a stroller while the two-year-old rides on the stroller board. Over time, the original, pre-agricultural state of affairs has come to seem strange to us. We humans are forever changing up our own game. And so here I was.


pages: 232 words: 71,965

Dead Companies Walking by Scott Fearon

bank run, Bernie Madoff, business cycle, corporate raider, creative destruction, crony capitalism, Donald Trump, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fear of failure, Golden Gate Park, hiring and firing, housing crisis, index fund, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, late fees, McMansion, moral hazard, new economy, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, young professional

There’s a famous, perhaps apocryphal, story from the late 1920s, of Joseph Kennedy listening in horror as the guy shining his shoes offered him stock picks. According to the story, Kennedy knew right then and there that the market was about to tank. I had a similar moment of clarity looking out at the denuded hills and half-finished homes of the Brightwater development. The place was an unmitigated disaster. The company was slapping up chintzy McMansions cheek-by-jowl and charging $800,000 for the smallest, cheapest units. I went into one of the few completed model homes and sat down at the mock kitchen table. Through a nearby window, I could see the house next door a few yards away. I imagined some poor homeowner trying to relax in her kitchen while the drone of her neighbor’s dishwasher came drifting through the window. As for the development’s name, some of the more expensive homes—priced well north of a million dollars—had peekaboo views of the Pacific Ocean off in the distance, but “Brightwater” seemed like a major stretch.


pages: 269 words: 77,876

Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit From Global Chaos by Sarah Lacy

Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, BRICs, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, fear of failure, Firefox, income per capita, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, megacity, Network effects, paypal mafia, QWERTY keyboard, risk tolerance, Skype, social web, Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh, urban planning, web application, women in the workforce, working-age population, zero-sum game

Even when Kagabo is laughing, his eyes are not. We’re not talking about these things though. We’re talking about toilet paper. Having spent the previous decade of my career parsing business pitches on medical devices, new drug compounds, chipsets, rational databases, super routers, and Web sites, I can’t remember the last time I had this un-techy of a conversation. But here’s the remarkable part: Just as those McMansions on the hil s could be under construction anywhere in the world, as I sit and talk business with Kagabo, I can’t stop thinking about how much he reminds me of an entrepreneur I’d recently interviewed in the United States: Tony Hsieh, CEO of the ecommerce shoe company, Zappos.com. Part of this resemblance is physical: Both men have thin, slight builds, close-cropped hair, and boyish faces. Neither is particularly emotive or talkative.


pages: 613 words: 200,826

Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles by Michael Gross

Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, Bernie Madoff, California gold rush, clean water, corporate raider, Donald Trump, estate planning, family office, financial independence, Irwin Jacobs, Joan Didion, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, mortgage debt, Norman Mailer, offshore financial centre, oil rush, passive investing, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, Right to Buy, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Predators' Ball, transcontinental railway, yellow journalism

There would be one long staircase just going up, And one even longer coming down, And one more leading nowhere, just for show. —SHELDON HARNICK, “If I Were a Rich Man,” Fiddler on the Roof Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles. —FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT (1867–1959) CONTENTS COVER TITLE PAGE COPYRIGHT DEDICATION EPIGRAPH CAST OF CHARACTERS INTRODUCTION PART ONE: McMansions, 1911–2011 Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 PART TWO: Ranchos, 1539–1906 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 PART THREE: Lots for Sale, 1906–1932 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 PART FOUR: Great Estates, 1932–1959 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 PART FIVE: White Elephants, 1958–1979 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28 Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Chapter 31 Chapter 32 Chapter 33 Chapter 34 Chapter 35 Chapter 36 Chapter 37 Chapter 38 Chapter 39 Chapter 40 Chapter 41 PART SIX: Trophy Houses, 1980–2011 Chapter 42 Chapter 43 Chapter 44 Chapter 45 Chapter 46 Chapter 47 Chapter 48 Chapter 49 Chapter 50 Chapter 51 Chapter 52 Chapter 53 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS NOTES SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY PHOTO CREDITS ABOUT THE AUTHOR Burton Green (photo credit fm1.1) Max Whittier (photo credit fm1.2) Edwin and Harold Janss (photo credit fm1.3) Minnewa and Alphonzo Bell (photo credit fm1.4) Charles Canfield and Jake Danziger (photo credit fm1.5) Harold Lloyd, Charles Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks at the Beverly Hills Hotel (photo credit fm1.6) Neil Steere McCarthy (photo credit fm1.7) Diane Stockmar, Dolly Green, and Burtie Green at Stockmar’s wedding (photo credit fm1.8) Harold Greenlin (left) with Habib Carouba and their lawyer George Choppelas (photo credit fm1.9) Steven Macallum Powers (left), Bernie Cornfeld and friend (photo credit fm1.10) Stewart and Lynda Resnick with Barbara Davis (right) (photo credit fm1.11) CAST OF CHARACTERS This book is about sixteen great estates in the best neighborhoods of Los Angeles—the contiguous communities of Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, and Beverly Park.

Nothing is indigenous in Los Angeles, a quality perfectly captured in the faux-historical pastiche that has come to be seen as the architectural style of the Triangle. Everything and everyone here comes from somewhere else. Impermanence defines the place. The book you are reading is an attempt to give back to this magical kingdom some of the history it has, perhaps willfully, forgotten. PART ONE McMansions 1911–2011 { OVERLOOKING BEVERLY PARK } (photo credit 1.1) Beverly Park I met Roger, an athletic-looking guy in a college T-shirt and jeans, standing on that ridge where I was looking down on Beverly Park. He was leaning on a Cadillac beside a buxom blonde. They were practicing real estate voyeurism, too. Roger pointed out Sylvester Stallone’s mansion, explaining to his friend that he used to golf with Sly, who’d once told him an amazing story about Beverly Park.


pages: 278 words: 82,069

Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover by Katrina Vanden Heuvel, William Greider

Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, business cycle, buy and hold, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, John Meriwether, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pets.com, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

The housing boom also spawned the now infamous subprime mortgage—a scheme devised by Main Street realtors and Wall Street bankers to finance home buying with loans that let the borrower buy in with little money down but carried high interest rates. The expensive payments would be made later by refinancing the mortgage as prices continued to rise. These subprimes were sold to middle-class strivers upgrading to McMansions as well as to the working poor. The increased demand pushed housing prices further into the stratosphere—until, inevitably, they fell back to earth. When the subprime borrowers could no longer make their payments, foreclosure signs went up, lowering the value of other houses in the neighborhood. The refinancing spigot shut off, retail sales sputtered and by January the economy was shedding jobs.


pages: 264 words: 79,589

Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground by Kevin Poulsen

Apple II, Brian Krebs, Burning Man, corporate governance, dumpster diving, Exxon Valdez, Hacker Ethic, hive mind, index card, Kickstarter, McMansion, Mercator projection, offshore financial centre, packet switching, pirate software, Ponzi scheme, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, traffic fines, web application, WikiLeaks, zero day, Zipcar

Prospective tenants could fill out a lease on the company’s website and pay the easy $99 deposit and the first month’s rent with a credit card. Chris could handle everything online, and his people wouldn’t have to put in an appearance until move-in day, when they’d stop by the rental office to flash their fake ID and pick up the door key. He moved two of his cashers, and Marcos, his pot connection, into the Archstone Mission Viejo, a labyrinth of McMansion-style apartments painted the colors of a sunset and clinging to a hill dotted with palm trees and high-tension lines alongside Interstate 5, ten minutes from his house. He was also looking to expand his crew. One girl had dropped out and moved to Toledo after her second in-store bust, and two others had quit in disgust when Chris impregnated his teenage girlfriend—he was now paying for an apartment for the young woman and their son, whose existence he kept secret even from his mother.


pages: 287 words: 81,970

The Dollar Meltdown: Surviving the Coming Currency Crisis With Gold, Oil, and Other Unconventional Investments by Charles Goyette

bank run, banking crisis, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, buy and hold, California gold rush, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Deng Xiaoping, diversified portfolio, Elliott wave, fiat currency, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, housing crisis, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, index fund, Lao Tzu, margin call, market bubble, McMansion, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, oil shock, peak oil, pushing on a string, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, short selling, Silicon Valley, transaction costs

—Buckminster Fuller Agriculture When investment legend and commodities bull Jim Rogers says that ten years from now instead of twenty-nine-year-old stockbrokers driving Maseratis, it will be twenty-nine-year-old farmers, he’s making an important point about the shifting economy. People’s spending hierarchies experience dynamic changes in lean economic times. People can live without the excesses of Wall Street. They can live without Hum mers, McMansions, and flat-screen TVs in every room. But they can’t live without food. The world can get along just fine with less so-called investment banking. It can’t get along with less farming. This goes for the rest of the world: a growing population needs additional food. Since 2000 Asia’s growth has been equal to almost one and a half times the total population of the United States. In 2008 the United Nations estimated the world population to be 6.7 billion.


pages: 262 words: 83,548

The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin

Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakken shale, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, decarbonisation, deglobalization, energy security, eurozone crisis, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, flex fuel, full employment, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Hans Island, happiness index / gross national happiness, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, illegal immigration, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Kickstarter, McMansion, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

They cost less to insure, and most importantly, they cost less to buy, which shrinks monthly mortgage payments. Sometimes small begets small in an effortless way. I grew up in a modest postwar suburban bungalow that was bulldozed after my parents sold it to make room for a house twice the size. In a smaller world, these giant suburban homes will become as obsolete as the SUVs parked in their driveways. The suburban landscape is defined by energy-sucking McMansions. Before long, these storehouses of consumer goods will be demolished to clear the way for smaller homes better suited to the finite dimensions of tomorrow’s economy. A smaller home will be a blessing when income growth starts to slow. The need to buy less stuff will free up much-needed cash to pay for energy and food. Since the last recession, energy expenditures have spiked and now account for as large a percentage of OECD household budgets as in past economic slowdowns.


pages: 296 words: 82,501

Stuffocation by James Wallman

3D printing, Airbnb, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, big-box store, Black Swan, BRICs, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, clean water, collaborative consumption, commoditize, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Fall of the Berlin Wall, happiness index / gross national happiness, hedonic treadmill, high net worth, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Hargreaves, Joseph Schumpeter, Kitchen Debate, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, McMansion, means of production, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, Paul Samuelson, post-industrial society, post-materialism, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, spinning jenny, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Thorstein Veblen, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, World Values Survey, Zipcar

Yet even that, after the initial, wide-eyed rush, did not keep Strobel happy for long. Nor, it seemed, did anything else. That was odd, because she should have been, at the very least, content. She was doing well at work. Her firm had picked her for its management-training programme. She was with a great guy, and they lived in a pretty town near Sacramento called Davis, in a luxury apartment surrounded by manicured lawns and McMansions. “I felt like I had it made,” Strobel recalls. “Like I had everything I could possibly want.” From the outside looking in, to anyone who caught sight of her new three-diamond ring, or saw her and Smith out partying in town, or came over to their fancy home and saw the rooms full of stuff and closets full of clothes, she did. Life was not so great on the inside, though. The two-hour drive to work and back was getting to her.


pages: 252 words: 78,780

Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by Dan Lyons

Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hiring and firing, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Gruber, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, loose coupling, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, RAND corporation, remote working, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, software is eating the world, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, Thomas Davenport, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, young professional

Both of those pale in comparison to Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s twenty-three-acre estate in Woodside, which is modeled after a Japanese emperor’s palace. The place took nine years to build, reportedly at a cost of $200 million. Its highlight is Katsura House, a replica of a teahouse from a sixteenth-century royal compound in Kyoto. The replica, which was built in Japan, then disassembled and shipped to California, is 10 percent bigger than the original. Non-billionaires settle for McMansions priced in single-digit millions, like a “secluded Tuscan estate” that the nouveau riche Chandler Guo, the self-proclaimed “Bitcoin King,” snapped up for $5 million in 2018. As for “regular” houses, those no longer exist. In March 2018, a drab, tiny, 848-square-foot house in Sunnyvale sold for $2 million, more than $2,300 per square foot, the highest square-foot price ever recorded on the Multiple Listing Service.


pages: 287 words: 80,050

The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less Is More - More or Less by Emrys Westacott

Airbnb, back-to-the-land, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Bonfire of the Vanities, carbon footprint, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate raider, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, Diane Coyle, discovery of DNA, Downton Abbey, dumpster diving, financial independence, full employment, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, hedonic treadmill, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, loss aversion, McMansion, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, negative equity, New Urbanism, paradox of thrift, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, the market place, The Spirit Level, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, Veblen good, Zipcar

There has been a growing awareness that behind all the goods and services we consume is a vast amount of industrial activity much of which depletes resources, pollutes soil, water, and air, destroys habitats, and contributes to global warming. Most of the food we eat is produced by industrial-scale agriculture that uses huge quantities of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, as well as water and energy. Acres of woodland and farmland are destroyed each day to make land available for more McMansions. Technology in many areas may have become cleaner, but this in itself cannot fix the problem. We think of the digital revolution as environmentally friendly, yet by the end of the twentieth century the manufacturing of each computer was generating 140 pounds of solid waste a year, some of it hazardous, and 12 million computers (300,000 tons) were being junked each year, mainly into landfills.5 Motor vehicles are undoubtedly becoming cleaner with respect to the amount of energy they consume and in the sort of exhaust they put out; but these improvements are more than offset by the rapid increase in the number of cars on the road in places like China and India.


pages: 316 words: 87,486

Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American ideology, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, blue-collar work, Burning Man, centre right, circulation of elites, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, George Gilder, gig economy, Gini coefficient, income inequality, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, mandatory minimum, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, microcredit, mobile money, moral panic, mortgage debt, Nelson Mandela, new economy, obamacare, payday loans, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, pre–internet, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Republic of Letters, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, union organizing, urban decay, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, young professional

It took a global financial catastrophe to make them reverse themselves in this way—a recurrence of the Great Depression complete with Wall Street swindles, a burst financial bubble, and weeks of panic as unemployment spiked, assets tumbled, and the economy’s foundations quivered. The confident days of the free-market consensus seemed to be shuddering to a close. The promise of a universally affluent postindustrial era now looked as empty and forlorn as a row of abandoned McMansions on some lonely cul-de-sac in the Nevada desert. It wasn’t merely Barack Obama’s singular identification with “Hope” and “Change” that made him seem like the reincarnation of Franklin Roosevelt; in contrast to every other candidate, he recognized how political convention had given us economic disaster. In March of 2008, he gave his speech at Cooper Union in New York City appraising the crisis even as it developed; he understood the parallel with the bubble and burst of 1929; he knew how deregulation had contributed to our present predicament; and he blamed Wall Street for giving us an economy in which ordinary people never got a chance to prosper.


pages: 270 words: 79,180

The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit by Marina Krakovsky

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Al Roth, Ben Horowitz, Black Swan, buy low sell high, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, experimental economics, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, Joan Didion, Kenneth Arrow, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market microstructure, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Network effects, patent troll, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social graph, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, uber lyft, ultimatum game, Y Combinator

And when they reach a promising spot and are lucky enough to be allowed in, they must rummage around to try to find something of value. The work is both exciting and humble. As if still pitching the show to TV executives, Wolfe often describes his vocation as “Indiana Jones meets Sanford & Son”—a cross between treasure hunter and junk dealer. In looking for properties to pick, Wolfe completely reverses our notions of good and bad. Staying away from freshly painted McMansions with satellite dishes and manicured yards, he gravitates toward houses with tall weeds out front, buildings and cars painted in dated colors like avocado and harvest gold, and rust on just about anything. The more signs of age and disrepair, the better. “Our secret to making a profit is that we skip the middleman, meaning we don’t buy from thrift stores, antique malls, or flea markets,” Wolfe and Fritz write in their book, American Pickers Guide to Picking.2 “Instead, we go straight to the source.”


pages: 286 words: 87,168

Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World by Jason Hickel

air freight, Airbnb, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, cognitive dissonance, coronavirus, corporate governance, corporate personhood, COVID-19, David Graeber, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, gender pay gap, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, land reform, liberal capitalism, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, passive income, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, quantitative easing, rent control, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, structural adjustment programs, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, universal basic income

Researchers are also testing proposals for a tax on red meat, which they find would not only curtail emissions but deliver a wide range of public health benefits, while driving medical costs down.19 The beef industry is just one example. There are many others we could consider. We could scale down the arms industry and the private jet industry. We could scale down the production of single-use plastics, disposable coffee cups, SUVs and McMansions (in the United States, house sizes have doubled since the 1970s20). Instead of building new stadiums for the Olympics and the World Cup every few years we could reuse existing infrastructure. We know that to reach our climate goals we will need to scale down the commercial airline industry, starting with policies like a frequent flyer levy, ending routes that can be served by train, and getting rid of first-class and business-class cabins, which have the highest CO2 per passenger mile.


pages: 306 words: 94,204

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter

back-to-the-land, crack epidemic, David Attenborough, dumpster diving, Golden Gate Park, haute cuisine, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Mason jar, McMansion, New Urbanism, Port of Oakland, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, urban decay, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog

We needed the area in front of the lot clear so we could unload our next load of horseshit. Bobby nodded and went to get a shopping cart to block the parking spot. He waved at our truck as we drove away, back to the hills, back to the stables. We had to cross the county line to get our horse poo. Oakland’s county, Alameda, gave way to Contra Costa County, land of rolling hills, working cattle ranches, and more recently rich folks with McMansions. Lucky for us, rich people like horses. And horses make a lot of manure. Which piles up and composts away until an enterprising gardener arrives and offers to take away this jackpot of tilth and nutrients. The horses whinnied when they heard us drive up. I backed the truck as close as possible to the mother lode: a massive mound of composting manure the size of a small barn. The smell—horse sweat, dirt, grass, and that unmistakable odor of cellulose breaking down—was heavenly.


pages: 313 words: 92,907

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are Thekeys to Sustainability by David Owen

A Pattern Language, active transport: walking or cycling, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, delayed gratification, distributed generation, drive until you qualify, East Village, food miles, garden city movement, hydrogen economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, linear programming, McMansion, Murano, Venice glass, Negawatt, New Urbanism, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, placebo effect, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, unemployed young men, urban planning, urban sprawl, walkable city, zero-sum game

Unfortunately, many critical structural incentives in the United States actually:• guarantee harmful outcomes (as was also the case in the buildup to the present credit crisis, in which lenders and borrowers were extravagantly rewarded for taking the steps that led to their self-destruction); or • cater primarily to political and commercial self-interest (as in the promotion of ethanol, which has made politicians look busy on the energy issue and has enriched the producers of ethanol but has harmed just about everyone else); or • make people feel better without accomplishing anything substantive (as in the economic abracadabra that makes homeowners feel they’re saving the world by installing heavily subsidized solar panels on the roofs of suburban McMansions). We have encouraged sprawl, automobile dependence, and energy gluttony from the beginning, in part by concealing from ourselves the true long-term and short-term costs—and when potentially useful disincentives have arisen spontaneously we have generally rushed to neutralize them, as in the demands, in late 2008, that fuel taxes be reduced to bring down the price of gasoline, or in work-relief proposals to help revive the economy by building new roads or making it easier for people to buy new cars and build new houses.


The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World by John Michael Greer

back-to-the-land, Black Swan, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, David Strachan, deindustrialization, European colonialism, Extropian, failed state, feminist movement, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, hydrogen economy, hygiene hypothesis, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, mass immigration, McMansion, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, post-industrial society, Project for a New American Century, Ray Kurzweil, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

Like other habitats, it should be a stable ecosystem with its own internal energy flows and resource cycles, forming part of a nested series of wider ecological relationships, from local ecosystems through bioregions to the biosphere of the Earth itself. Homes flourish or fail depending on their successful integration with those larger patterns. The traditional homes of many nonindustrial cultures embody millennia of evolution and provide excellent human habitat, while leaving the wider environmental systems around them relatively 119 120 T he E cotechnic F u t u re unharmed. Most homes in the modern industrial world, from the sprawling McMansions of the well-to-do down to the apartments that house the poor, provide relatively poor habitat for human beings; unlike more traditional housing, which is designed to foster many of the activities of human life, many modern residences make room for sleeping, consuming manufactured products and very little else. They are also hopelessly out of harmony with their surroundings and manage to keep functioning at all only at the cost of massive damage to local and global ecosystems and equally huge inputs of energy and raw materials drawn mostly from fossil fuels.


pages: 327 words: 88,121

The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community by Marc J. Dunkelman

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, assortative mating, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Broken windows theory, business cycle, call centre, clean water, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, David Brooks, delayed gratification, different worldview, double helix, Downton Abbey, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, global supply chain, global village, helicopter parent, if you build it, they will come, impulse control, income inequality, invention of movable type, Jane Jacobs, Khyber Pass, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, Nate Silver, obamacare, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Richard Florida, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban decay, urban planning, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

In the first decade of the nineteenth century, a manufacturing worker needed a half-hour’s wages to buy a pound of bread and an hour for a half gallon of milk. By 1970, that was down to five and twelve minutes respectively.7 And because our dollar goes so much further, we’ve developed a taste for new products and services. You no longer get a plain cup of coffee from a pushcart—you get a Starbucks latte with a shot of vanilla. You’re no longer satisfied with a cape-style bungalow—you want a McMansion. Over the years middle-class life has gotten better and better: products that seemed like luxuries during the early postwar years have become standard fare. And as a result, accoutrements once reserved for the rich and famous have become increasingly pedestrian. Even better, the blessings of American prosperity haven’t been limited to the upper crust and those aspiring to get there. Earners at the lower rungs of the nation’s income ladder have benefited as well.


pages: 407 words: 90,238

Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler, Jamie Wheal

3D printing, Alexander Shulgin, augmented reality, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, delayed gratification, disruptive innovation, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, high batting average, hive mind, Hyperloop, impulse control, informal economy, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, lateral thinking, Mason jar, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, science of happiness, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh, urban planning

And because our community shared that vision, we were able to crowdsource $40 million and buy a ski area (Powder Mountain) that sits on a mountain range the size of Manhattan.” So while folks at Burning Man are just starting to build themselves a homeland, Summit has already taken that step. Already, there are more than five hundred home sites on the land, with people like Richard Branson, Kobe Bryant, GE’s CMO Beth Comstock, and Nike president Trevor Edwards already committed to the project. And instead of the typical McMansion resort plan, they are actively fostering community by prohibiting oversize statement homes and concentrating development into tightly clustered neighborhoods. Everything is being built to platinum-level LEED environmental standards. It’s the world’s first ecstatically inspired eco-town, though it didn’t start out that way. Summit began in 2008, when five entrepreneurs in their early twenties came together to solve a common problem.


pages: 347 words: 91,318

Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs by Gina Keating

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, barriers to entry, business intelligence, collaborative consumption, corporate raider, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, Netflix Prize, new economy, out of africa, performance metric, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, price stability, recommendation engine, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Superbowl ad, telemarketer, X Prize

Randolph told me that many business plans and deals are hammered out along this stretch of road. Santa Cruz, especially the section populated by well-to-do residents on the west side of the San Lorenzo River, is vehemently antigrowth and antimansion, and even fought a widening of Highway 17 that would have shortened the hour-long commute to Silicon Valley. The town’s east siders share their wealthy neighbors’ isolationism—not so much to keep out vulgarian McMansion builders as to preserve a surf-shack culture reminiscent of a 1960s beach party movie. We turned north toward the center of town, near where the Pacific Coast Highway runs inland for a few blocks through a tony little business district, before it heads back toward the California coastline. Randolph parked the Volvo at a meter on Pacific Avenue, and we began to walk—past a vintage movie theater, a few upscale chain stores, and local boutiques.


pages: 487 words: 95,085

JPod by Douglas Coupland

Asperger Syndrome, Drosophila, finite state, G4S, game design, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, neurotypical, pez dispenser, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, Ronald Reagan, special economic zone, wage slave, Y2K

Here's what happened: Kam screwed up and accidentally put not just smuggled people but a smuggler into a Nedlloyd freight container. They spent eight days lolling about the Pacific with almost no food, water, light or sanitation. Kam had to hide out at my place for a few weeks until things calmed down. He was philosophical about the mistake: "I had to give the bastard a freebie on that particular shipment, and I also had to buy a McMansion for his mother in West Van, one bordering the golf course. Of course, the mother's gaga and could live in a Maytag box for all she cares." In any event, Kam ended up staying with us in Chinatown—the poverty nostalgia factor—and Kaitlin and I couldn't be happier. He makes no noise at all when he's home, and the fridge is bursting with tons of free food, renewed daily. Greg walked in with Kam.


pages: 304 words: 96,930

Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture by Taylor Clark

Berlin Wall, commoditize, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, deskilling, Edmond Halley, fear of failure, Honoré de Balzac, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, McJob, McMansion, Naomi Klein, Ray Oldenburg, Ronald Reagan, The Great Good Place, trade route

Subaru station wagons roam the city streets in packs, their bumpers broadcasting an assortment of faded liberal slogans dating back to the Reagan administration. To the extent that Ashland is known at all outside Oregon, it is as a summer destination for theater-loving tourists; the town is home to the popular Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which puts on about a dozen different plays a year. Recently, Ashland has become a trendy locale for wealthy Californians, who have built scores of McMansions out in the foothills. Still, it’s a nice place. For years, the local government protected Ashland’s appeal by keeping chain stores out of the town’s core, forcing them to open on the outskirts. This nonconformist ethic was part of the city’s collective identity. When the McDonald’s outlet down by the highway on-ramp went out of business, the entire town seemed to rejoice, as though this was proof of the community’s inherent goodness.


pages: 364 words: 99,613

Servant Economy: Where America's Elite Is Sending the Middle Class by Jeff Faux

back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disruptive innovation, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kickstarter, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, medical malpractice, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, new economy, oil shock, old-boy network, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, private military company, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, South China Sea, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, working poor, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

People who could not afford the monthly payments unless they refinanced their mortgages every few years were given mortgage loans. Each refinancing of these subprime mortgages, as they were called, came loaded with fees and balloon payments that made them more profitable for the brokers and investors. Subprime mortgages were not limited to low-income families. They were also available to middle-class professionals upgrading into McMansions. This new flow of money pushed housing prices up almost everywhere and, in the faster-growing parts of the country, into the stratosphere. In real terms, average home prices in the United States almost doubled in a decade.10 Third, pressured by Wall Street and real estate lobbyists to continue the housing boom, the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations leaned on “Fannie Mae” and “Freddie Mac,” the independent quasi-governmental agencies that bought mortgages from banks in order to free up capital for housing, to expand their operations ostensibly in the name of widening opportunities for homeownership.


pages: 346 words: 102,625

Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker

8-hour work day, active transport: walking or cycling, barriers to entry, buy and hold, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, delayed gratification, discounted cash flows, diversification, dogs of the Dow, don't be evil, dumpster diving, financial independence, game design, index fund, invention of the steam engine, inventory management, lateral thinking, loose coupling, market bubble, McMansion, passive income, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, psychological pricing, the scientific method, time value of money, transaction costs, wage slave, working poor

Rather, it's shelter in Finland or Alaska that is an absolute need--insofar that staying alive is a need, but nobody needs to live in Finland or Alaska, even though I'm sure those are nice places.45 Even though the rankings on this list probably match the rankings of most people, it's by no means universal. Having experienced the freedom of living in an RV or a boat for a while, some people would never dream of substituting this for a 4,000square-foot McMansion with its endless cleaning and maintenance issues, and the need for walkie-talkies to find lost family members. The list is individual, because any choice has consequences in other domains (see Contingency goal-setting). For each individual, there are similar lists for eating, clothing, transportation, health, time, tools, toys, activities, status, etc., each ranging from essentially zero cost to more than one can imagine.


pages: 364 words: 102,225

Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by Steve Inskeep

battle of ideas, British Empire, call centre, creative destruction, Edward Glaeser, European colonialism, illegal immigration, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Khyber Pass, Kibera, knowledge economy, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, new economy, New Urbanism, urban planning, urban renewal

Homebuyers would be required to stay about five years, but if after that they were able to sell the houses on the free market at a profit, Adnan would heartily approve. The value of the house could help to lift a family out of poverty. One day Adnan took me to see the property where he expected to begin. His driver, who went by the name James, steered us past the funhouse-mirror world that was the outer reaches of Karachi. We passed enormous but shabbily built houses, the local equivalent of McMansions. We passed apartment buildings and sandy lots. Adnan called a halt at a bazaar built on a street median. “You have to see this,” he said. Mats on bamboo poles kept sunlight out of the improvised shops. We ducked under a mat into a pool hall, with a magnificent table of carved wood and green velvet sitting on the earthen median. The owner said it was a good business. He had customers before noon, two young men who were paying him ten rupees per game, about twelve cents.


Work Less, Live More: The Way to Semi-Retirement by Robert Clyatt

asset allocation, backtesting, buy and hold, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, employer provided health coverage, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial independence, fixed income, future of work, index arbitrage, index fund, lateral thinking, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, merger arbitrage, money market fund, mortgage tax deduction, passive income, rising living standards, risk/return, Silicon Valley, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Vanguard fund, working poor, zero-sum game

Use your local knowledge to snatch a prize smaller property at a good price, perhaps even before it gets to market, giving you the chance to share the seller’s savings from not paying a realtor. (See “Retiring Outside the U.S.” and “Deciding Whether It’s Possible to Semi-Retire,” below, for information on moving to another state or country, which can also help beat high home costs.) Resource A growing trend toward high-quality but not-so-big homes suggests that the McMansion ideal may be fading—and there are resources aimed at the new cottage dwellers. 138 | Work Less, Live More Susan Susanka has a number of books and resources under the theme of The Not So Big House online at www.notsobighouse.com. These homes are intimate, beautiful, and functional without being big. They aren’t always cheaper, though, as quality design and materials can add up. Cottage Living magazine, a visual feast every month, is filled with great design in small packages, convincingly demonstrating that, when it comes to houses at least, less can be more.


pages: 299 words: 97,378

Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World by Lynne Martin

connected car, Downton Abbey, East Village, haute cuisine, McMansion, pink-collar, Skype

The view from our small apartment stretched across the town and into the vine-covered hills beyond it. People think of the Napa area of Northern California as the wine-growing capital of the state, but the Central Coast is catching up fast. More than 140 wineries snuggle among them as they step back from the ocean, with new wine tasting rooms sprouting up almost daily. The restaurant and bar scene has become sophisticated, and McMansions dot the countryside. Cattle and vineyards vie for space in the landscape. We had dreamed of some downtime and many relaxed evenings with my daughters and their families. But while we certainly enjoyed lots of family fun during the holidays, in California, time seemed to speed up. We found ourselves far busier than we ever were on the road, and the days evaporated with social events and chores.


pages: 391 words: 97,018

Better, Stronger, Faster: The Myth of American Decline . . . And the Rise of a New Economy by Daniel Gross

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset-backed security, Bakken shale, banking crisis, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demand response, Donald Trump, Frederick Winslow Taylor, high net worth, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, illegal immigration, index fund, intangible asset, intermodal, inventory management, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, LNG terminal, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, risk tolerance, risk/return, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, the High Line, transit-oriented development, Wall-E, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Energy consumption is about 8 percent of gross domestic product, but it has outsize implications for foreign policy, national security, and the environment. In the twentieth century the United States constructed a society geared around low-cost and plentiful energy that doesn’t work as well in an era of high-cost energy. Driving a Hummer fifty miles to Walmart from an exurban 4,200-square-foot McMansion, which costs a ton to heat, didn’t make much sense in the first place; it made even less sense in 2009 and 2010, with unemployment high and gas and heating oil at $4 per gallon. The addiction to foreign oil, and our inability to quickly remake the systems that rely on it, contribute to the sense of helplessness in the face of decline. And yet the American economy has shown a significant capacity to do more with less, even in the absence of a carbon tax or other government mandates.


pages: 311 words: 99,699

Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe by Gillian Tett

accounting loophole / creative accounting, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, Blythe Masters, break the buck, Bretton Woods, business climate, business cycle, buy and hold, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, easy for humans, difficult for computers, financial innovation, fixed income, housing crisis, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Kickstarter, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, Renaissance Technologies, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satyajit Das, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, value at risk, yield curve

“Builders that built speculative homes are trying to move them by offering large incentives and discounts, and some anxious buyers are canceling contracts for homes already being built,” observed Robert Toll, CEO of luxury home builder Toll Brothers, after its stock crashed 50 percent for the year by August. Forbes magazine tartly observed: “When even Toll Brothers, the high-end builder, suffers cancelations, you know the real estate boom is over.” On October 6, home builder Kara Homes, known for their construction of “McMansions,” filed for bankruptcy protection, less than a month after reporting that the company had enjoyed the “two most profitable quarters in the history of our company.” The delinquency rate on subprime mortgages rose from 12 percent to 14 percent. Troublesome as they were, these signs of housing strain did nothing to stop the mortgage-based CDO machine. Between October and December 2006 alone, banks issued a record $130 billion worth of CDOs, double the level a year before, and 40 percent of those were created from asset-backed securities consisting primarily of subprime mortgages.


pages: 831 words: 98,409

SUPERHUBS: How the Financial Elite and Their Networks Rule Our World by Sandra Navidi

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, assortative mating, bank run, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Blythe Masters, Bretton Woods, butterfly effect, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, diversification, East Village, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, family office, financial repression, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google bus, Gordon Gekko, haute cuisine, high net worth, hindsight bias, income inequality, index fund, intangible asset, Jaron Lanier, John Meriwether, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, McMansion, mittelstand, money market fund, Myron Scholes, NetJets, Network effects, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, Parag Khanna, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer, performance metric, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, Renaissance Technologies, rent-seeking, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Satyajit Das, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, The Future of Employment, The Predators' Ball, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, too big to fail, women in the workforce, young professional

Leon Black recently bought a $50 million townhouse in the tony neighborhood that requires another $20 million in renovations. It will serve as the perfect backdrop to Black’s spectacular art collection, which comprises many masterpieces worth hundreds of millions of dollars. On summer weekends, the power scene moves either to the Hamptons on Long Island or “to the country,” lingo for north of the city. Virtually all financiers own McMansions, equipped with pools, tennis courts, and guesthouses, surrounded by lush formal gardens, tall privet hedges, and security features. The upkeep costs hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and often requires the employ of an estate manager. Even within clusters, supernuclei form. In the Hamptons, superhubs congregate around Meadow Lane, Gin Lane, and Dune Road. Leon Black owns a massive beachfront compound where he celebrated his sixty-third birthday with a spectacular private Elton John concert.


pages: 293 words: 97,431

You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon, but Get Lost in the Mall by Colin Ellard

A Pattern Language, call centre, car-free, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Frank Gehry, global village, Google Earth, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, job satisfaction, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, New Urbanism, peak oil, polynesian navigation, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, traveling salesman, urban planning, urban sprawl

Enclosing walls, and the refuge they offer, are avoided by arranging wide aisles around the outside of the seating area that are designed to draw people to the service counters. Food courts are brightly lit, often with skylights and high ceilings. Tables are arranged in such a way as to discourage groups of diners any larger than two. The effect, very much like trying to have lunch in the middle of an overdone foyer in a suburban McMansion, is artfully contrived to encourage people to slap down their money, wolf down their food, and plunge themselves back into the shopping fray.6 Perhaps a more apt metaphor would be to imagine primitive Homo sapiens sitting down for a nice lunch in the middle of a wide open stretch of savannah. He would undoubtedly run a great risk of becoming lunch, rather than consuming it, so would be unlikely to linger for dessert.


pages: 308 words: 96,604

American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America’s Deadliest Drug Epidemic by John Temple

airport security, barriers to entry, citizen journalism, illegal immigration, Mason jar, McMansion, offshore financial centre

But working on Florida’s west coast as the market was dying was easy, especially when you were best friends with the boss’s son. They’d put in half a day, then take a long lunch, and work maybe a couple more hours in the afternoon. Then Chris wanted to go out to eat every night, hit the gym, then head to a strip club, find some girls. Night after night. It was an exciting life, where you might spend the morning installing windows on a mid-level McMansion in Port Charlotte, then drop everything and charter a cruiser to the Keys. Derik could keep up with Chris’s pace, and they had the same stupid sense of humor. Chris was obsessed with this girl who danced at a place called Emerald City Gentleman’s Club in Port Charlotte. Her stage name was Katie, kind of a plain name for a stripper, surrounded by Jades and Fantasias and Candis. Derik thought Katie was her real name for about six months, only to find out that she was actually named Dianna, which sounded more stripper-like than her stage name.


pages: 289 words: 112,697

The new village green: living light, living local, living large by Stephen Morris

back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, cleantech, collective bargaining, Columbine, Community Supported Agriculture, computer age, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, discovery of penicillin, distributed generation, energy security, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Firefox, index card, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Kevin Kelly, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, McMansion, Menlo Park, Negawatt, off grid, peak oil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review

You can see a close-up of some of that futility in the new book Design Like You Give a Damn from the nonprofit Architecture for Humanity,3 a book that is lovely in every sense of the word. The group started by sponsoring a competition for new shelters for refugees, and the range of replacements that people thought up for canvas tents makes clear just how much talent is currently going to waste designing McMansions. There are inflatable hemp bubbles and cardboard outhouses and dozens of other designs and prototypes for the world’s poorest people and biggest disasters. As time went on, the group also collected photos and plans for attractive buildings around the world: health clinics that generate their own power, schools cheap enough for communities to construct. Still, there’s something sad about the entire project – most of these designs have never been carried out, because the architects lacked the political savvy or influence to get them adopted by relief agencies or national governments.


pages: 321 words: 85,893

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith

British Empire, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, Drosophila, dumpster diving, en.wikipedia.org, Gary Taubes, Haber-Bosch Process, longitudinal study, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, peak oil, placebo effect, Rosa Parks, the built environment

My number would be much lower. But does it matter in the end what number I come up with? There needs to be fewer of us. Dramatically fewer of us. And in wealthy countries, we need to consume dramatically less. A truly local economy could make that necessity both plain and possible: not only would it be obvious that logging, mining, agriculture, and other extractive activities were necessary for our McMansions and our computer chips, but when those “resources” ran out, so would the life that is built upon them. But money buys us distance, buffering us from the murder of the world in a sweet dream of abundance. Brian Donahue explores this in his book Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town. The town of Weston has a community-owned forest, and the question of human use has proved difficult.


pages: 477 words: 106,069

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

butterfly effect, carbon footprint, crowdsourcing, Douglas Hofstadter, feminist movement, functional fixedness, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, index card, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, Nelson Mandela, profit maximization, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, short selling, Steven Pinker, the market place, theory of mind, Turing machine

The new entries in AHD 5 are a showcase for the linguistic exuberance and recent cultural history of the Anglosphere: Abrahamic, air rage, amuse-bouche, backward-compatible, brain freeze, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, camel toe, community policing, crowdsourcing, Disneyfication, dispensationalism, dream catcher, earbud, emo, encephalization, farklempt, fashionista, fast-twitch, Goldilocks zone, grayscale, Grinch, hall of mirrors, hat hair, heterochrony, infographics, interoperable, Islamofascism, jelly sandal, jiggy, judicial activism, ka-ching, kegger, kerfuffle, leet, liminal, lipstick lesbian, manboob, McMansion, metabolic syndrome, nanobot, neuroethics, nonperforming, off the grid, Onesie, overdiagnosis, parkour, patriline, phish, quantum entanglement, queer theory, quilling, race-bait, recursive, rope-a-dope, scattergram, semifreddo, sexting, tag-team, time-suck, tranche, ubuntu, unfunny, universal Turing machine, vacuum energy, velociraptor, vocal percussion, waterboard, webmistress, wetware, Xanax, xenoestrogen, x-ray fish, yadda yadda yadda, yellow dog, yutz, Zelig, zettabyte, zipline If I were allowed to take just one book to the proverbial desert island, it might be a dictionary.


pages: 452 words: 110,488

The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead by David Callahan

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, business cycle, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, David Brooks, deindustrialization, East Village, fixed income, forensic accounting, full employment, game design, greed is good, high batting average, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, job satisfaction, mandatory minimum, market fundamentalism, McMansion, microcredit, moral hazard, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, old-boy network, plutocrats, Plutocrats, postindustrial economy, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Oldenburg, Robert Bork, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, Thorstein Veblen, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, young professional, zero-sum game

She also shows the way in which movies and television programs about teenagers now emphasize an amazingly opulent lifestyle in places like Beverly Hills.21 A bit of competitive spending might be fine if it weren't so hard to keep up with those who set today's standards of material well-being. As Juliet Schor has documented in The Overspent American, nobody actually compares themselves anymore to the Joneses of yesteryear—that is, the next-door neighbor in a similar income group. We are now likely to compare ourselves with "reference groups" who make much more money than we do. If you're rich, you compare yourself to the superrich. You don't want a "McMansion," you want a real mansion—like the one you saw lovingly described in a rerun of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. If you're upper middle class, you compare yourself to the rich. If you're middle class or lower class, you might compare yourself to both the upper middle class and the rich.22 Stroll again into that Banana Republic and look around. Chances are that many of the young people buying the $42 polo shirts and the $78 jeans are plunking down plastic at what is anachronistically known as the "cash" register, and can't really afford these clothes.


pages: 324 words: 106,699

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Berlin Wall, call centre, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, job-hopping, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Occupy movement, pattern recognition, peak oil, pre–internet, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, trade route, WikiLeaks, zero day

It turned out to be a difficult search: Given the number of people who work at the CIA, and the CIA’s location in Virginia—where the housing density is, let’s say, semirural—the prices were through the roof. The 22100s are some of the most expensive zip codes in America. Eventually, browsing on Craigslist, I found a room that was surprisingly within my budget, in a house surprisingly near—less than fifteen minutes from—CIA headquarters. I went to check it out, expecting a cruddy bachelor pad pigsty. Instead, I pulled up in front of a large glass-fronted McMansion, immaculately maintained with a topiary lawn that was seasonally decorated. I’m being completely serious when I say that as I approached the place, the smell of pumpkin spice got stronger. A guy named Gary answered the door. He was older, which I expected from the “Dear Edward” tone of his email, but I hadn’t expected him to be so well dressed. He was very tall, with buzz-cut gray hair, and was wearing a suit, and over the suit, an apron.


pages: 422 words: 119,439

Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis

airport security, McMansion, Norman Mailer, Ronald Reagan

As the ghost padded through the living room it stopped when it noticed the odd formation of the furniture. The sectional couch, the Le Corbusier chairs and the Eames tables had been rearranged for the party, yet this new setup now seemed weirdly familiar to me. I wanted to figure out why, but the sound of the vacuum merging with Victor’s barking forced the ghost to move quickly toward the kitchen. The house had been referred to as a McMansion in the Talk article: nine thousand square feet and situated in a fast-growing and wealthy suburb, and 307 Elsinore Lane wasn’t even the grandest in the community—it merely reflected the routine affluence of the neighborhood. It was, according to a spread in Elle Decor, “minimalist global eclectic with an emphasis on Spanish revival” but with “elements of midcentury French chateau and a touch of sixties Palm Springs modernism” (imagine that if you can; it was not a design concept everyone grasped).


pages: 434 words: 114,583

Faster, Higher, Farther: How One of the World's Largest Automakers Committed a Massive and Stunning Fraud by Jack Ewing

1960s counterculture, Asilomar, asset-backed security, Berlin Wall, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate governance, crossover SUV, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, hiring and firing, McMansion, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs

She was also the owner of a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI diesel—one of the customers whose loyalty had helped build the Wolfsburg empire. Humstone had spent essentially her entire career involved in environmental and planning issues. She boasted that she came from a family that was recycling trash in the 1950s, and she had a master’s degree in city planning from Harvard University. Later she was executive director of the Vermont Forum on Sprawl, which tried to keep the state’s open spaces from being covered by McMansions. When Humstone began shopping for a new car in 2010, she thought first of a Prius, the Toyota hybrid that pioneered the idea of a car that was less harmful to the planet. The Prius was the default choice for any people who considered themselves environmentalists. “All my work was related to being environmentally responsible,” Humstone recalled later. “That was really important to me. If I was going to purchase a car, I wanted one that was responsible.”


pages: 413 words: 119,379

The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth by Tom Burgis

Airbus A320, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, BRICs, British Empire, central bank independence, clean water, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, F. W. de Klerk, Gini coefficient, Livingstone, I presume, McMansion, megacity, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, purchasing power parity, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, trade route, transfer pricing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

‘But in life you have to take risks.’58 What Frederic Cilins had not known when he sat down with Mamadie Touré in April 2013 to try to persuade her to destroy the contracts promising her cash and shares for helping BSGR and to catch a plane out of the United States was that the FBI was listening in. When she arrived in Florida following Lansana Conté’s death, the dictator’s widow had bought what Americans disparagingly call a ‘McMansion’, a luxurious residence built with more grandeur than taste.59 Once Alpha Condé took power, the investigation he launched into how BSGR had won its rights followed the trail to her doorstep. The investigators whom Guinea’s new government had hired to conduct the probe shared what they had discovered with US prosecutors, who in early 2013 convened a grand jury and pressed ahead with their own investigation.


pages: 424 words: 121,425

How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy by Mehrsa Baradaran

access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, British Empire, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, credit crunch, David Graeber, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, diversification, failed state, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, income inequality, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, McMansion, microcredit, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Own Your Own Home, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, savings glut, the built environment, the payments system, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, union organizing, white flight, working poor

., Philip Swagel, “The Financial Crisis: An Inside View” (working paper, Brookings Institute, Spring 2009, 21), accessed March 17, 2015, www.brookings.edu/~/media/Projects/BPEA/Spring-2009/2009a_bpea_swagel.PDF. “Many were unwilling to put public money on the line to prevent additional foreclosures, because any such program would inevitably involve a bailout of some “irresponsible” homeowners. Put more cynically, spending public money on foreclosure avoidance would be asking responsible taxpayers to subsidize people living in McMansions they could not afford, with flat-screen televisions paid for out of their home equity line of credit.” Ibid. 27. John Tamny, “The Ongoing and Hideous Lie about ‘Victimized’ Mortgage Holders,” Forbes, March 2013, accessed March 17, 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/johntamny/2013/03/05/the-ongoing-and-hideous-lie-about-victimized-mortgage-walkers/. 28. CNBC “Squawk Box,” quoted in “Rick Santelli: Tea Party,” Freedom Eden, February 19, 2009, accessed January 18, 2015, freedomeden.blogspot.com/2009/02/rick-santelli-tea-party.html. 29.


pages: 432 words: 124,635

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, agricultural Revolution, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, City Beautiful movement, clean water, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, East Village, edge city, energy security, Enrique Peñalosa, experimental subject, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, happiness index / gross national happiness, hedonic treadmill, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, income per capita, Induced demand, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, license plate recognition, McMansion, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, science of happiness, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, starchitect, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, wage slave, white flight, World Values Survey, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Her how-to guide, the Sprawl Repair Manual, offers some wildly ambitious prescriptions: Business parks can be fixed by inserting streets and shops onto their tarmacs. Urban highways can be morphed into main streets by putting them on diets and slowing them down with narrower lanes, streetlights, and crosswalks. Disconnected tangles of cul-de-sac can be made walkable by strategic grafting of new roads and lanes between them. Huge, unaffordable McMansions can be divided into apartments. Gas stations can be humanized by wrapping their parking lots in new street-front businesses. Parts of the Sprawl Repair Manual read like a blueprint for a fantasy urban universe; anything is possible on paper. But some of Tachieva’s prescriptions have already come to life in pockets across the continent. One of the most striking retrofits is growing on the former site of a vast mall surrounded by parking on 104 acres in Lakewood, southwest of Denver.


pages: 454 words: 122,612

In-N-Out Burger by Stacy Perman

anti-communist, British Empire, commoditize, corporate raider, El Camino Real, estate planning, forensic accounting, Haight Ashbury, Maui Hawaii, McJob, McMansion, new economy, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Upton Sinclair

Within two years the couple separated and quietly divorced. In 2005, Lynsi married Richard Martinez in a small ceremony in San Diego. Martinez worked for In-N-Out dealing with the chain’s cookout trailers, and the two were introduced when they were partnered to learn and perform dance routines at the annual In-N-Out associates’ picnic. The couple later moved into a custom-built $1.21 million four-bedroom house on Valiant Street* in a McMansion-filled cul-de-sac in Glendora. Fronted by perfectly manicured lawns and flanked by nine graceful palm trees, the cream-colored house with a gray slate tile roof and paned windows was situated among the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The house, just minutes away from Esther’s, had a swimming pool and spa, a detached guesthouse, and a three-car garage. Soon, the couple were said to have become deeply involved in the Successful Christian Living Church.


pages: 435 words: 120,574

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Sanders, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, clean water, collective bargaining, Deep Water Horizon, desegregation, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, equal pay for equal work, Exxon Valdez, feminist movement, full employment, greed is good, guest worker program, invisible hand, knowledge economy, McMansion, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, obamacare, oil shock, payday loans, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, Thorstein Veblen, urban sprawl, working poor, Yogi Berra

Outsiders can join those standing around the square, since a lot of people who are insiders now were outsiders in the past; incorporation and acceptance of difference feel like American values represented in the Statue of Liberty. But in the liberal deep story, an alarming event occurs; marauders invade the public square, recklessly dismantle it, and selfishly steal away bricks and concrete chunks from the public buildings at its center. Seeing insult added to injury, those guarding the public square watch helplessly as those who’ve dismantled it construct private McMansions with the same bricks and pieces of concrete, privatizing the public realm. That’s the gist of the liberal deep story, and the right can’t understand the deep pride liberals take in their creatively designed, hard-won public sphere as a powerful integrative force in American life. Ironically, you may have more in common with the left than you imagine, for many on the left feel like strangers in their own land too.


pages: 394 words: 124,743

Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry by Steven Rattner

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, bank run, banking crisis, business cycle, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, friendly fire, hiring and firing, income inequality, Joseph Schumpeter, low skilled workers, McMansion, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, supply-chain management, too big to fail

In its glory days, armed with a strong credit rating, it had fallen into the same bad habits as other elite financial outfits, such as GE Capital and AIG. Like an occasional smoker who gradually acquires a three-pack-a-day habit, GMAC began to abuse its cheap capital, branching out aggressively into other kinds of lending—in particular, residential real estate at the height of the housing bubble. For a while this led to McMansion-size profits for GMAC's residential capital unit, ResCap, but by the end of 2007 it was gushing red ink. GMAC had already lost its investment-grade rating and now had to pour in billions to keep ResCap afloat, weakening its ability to make car loans. Things only got worse. By autumn 2008 GMAC's own survival was in doubt, and it came running to Washington for help. Initial relief took the form of GMAC's being granted 'bank holding company' status by the Federal Reserve.


pages: 441 words: 124,798

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America by Beth Macy

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, centre right, crack epidemic, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, invisible hand, labor-force participation, mandatory minimum, mass incarceration, McMansion, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, obamacare, offshore financial centre, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, single-payer health, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor

Americans, representing 4.4 percent of the world’s population, consume roughly 30 percent of its opioids. Patrick had been dead now for nine years. It would be three more years before another federal agency would put his mother’s suggestions into practice. PART THREE “A Broken System” George’s Chicken, Edinburg, Virginia Note from Tess Henry, Roanoke, Virginia Chapter Nine Whac-A-Mole By 2014, the suburban heroin-dealing scene had become entrenched in Roanoke’s McMansion subdivisions and poor neighborhoods alike. But the largest dealers weren’t twice-convicted felons like Ronnie Jones with elaborate dope-cutting schemes, multiple cars, and hired mules. They were local users, many of them female, dispatched to buy the heroin from a bulk dealer out of state, in exchange for a cut. And they were as elusive as hell to catch. Among Roanoke’s first long-haul drug runners was a pretty brunet in her midtwenties whose name reflected her Hawaiian heritage: Ashlyn Keikilani Kessler.


pages: 480 words: 138,041

The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry by Gary Greenberg

addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, back-to-the-land, David Brooks, impulse control, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Snow's cholera map, Kickstarter, late capitalism, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, selection bias, statistical model, theory of mind, Winter of Discontent

But still the fact of that diagnosis, right there in black-and-white, was undeniable. I was a mental patient. I was eventually cured of my maladjustment—not by therapy, but by a family coup that resulted in my grandfather’s being relieved of the farm he’d inherited from his mother. That happened to be the land on which I’d built my home, and so I was evicted, my cabin eventually bulldozed and the land converted to McMansions, and it became necessary for me to earn a living. Of the many adjustments I have had to make, diagnosing people in order to secure an income was one of the strangest—not only because the DSM’s labels seemed so insufficient, its criteria so deracinated, the whole procedure so banal in comparison with the rich and disturbing and ultimately inexhaustible conversation that was occurring in my office, but also, and much more important, because of the bad faith involved.


pages: 460 words: 131,579

Masters of Management: How the Business Gurus and Their Ideas Have Changed the World—for Better and for Worse by Adrian Wooldridge

affirmative action, barriers to entry, Black Swan, blood diamonds, borderless world, business climate, business cycle, business intelligence, business process, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Exxon Valdez, financial deregulation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, George Gilder, global supply chain, industrial cluster, intangible asset, job satisfaction, job-hopping, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, mobile money, Naomi Klein, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Norman Macrae, patent troll, Ponzi scheme, popular capitalism, post-industrial society, profit motive, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, Tony Hsieh, too big to fail, wealth creators, women in the workforce, young professional, Zipcar

Just as the Great Depression of the 1930s led to the rise of the suburbs, and the great malaise of the 1970s led to the rise of the sun belt, the crash of 2007–08 will hasten the rise of high-density cities. “Every phase or epoch of capitalism has its own distinct geography,” he argues, “and the next phase will have the geography of the inner city.” The housing crash will persuade people to stop driving themselves into debt to buy McMansions and the SUVs that go with them; instead they will start renting lofts and getting on their bicycles, helping to produce a general civilizational shift of shrinking suburbs and expanding urban cores. But what exactly does creativity mean? Why do some people have it and others not? How can you encourage people to be more creative, and how can you build creativity into the DNA of your company? To answer these questions, a growing number of business people have been turning to the third member of my trio of academic entrepreneurs, Howard Gardner.


pages: 442 words: 130,526

The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India's New Gilded Age by James Crabtree

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Asian financial crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Branko Milanovic, business climate, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, colonial rule, Commodity Super-Cycle, corporate raider, creative destruction, crony capitalism, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, facts on the ground, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, informal economy, Joseph Schumpeter, liberal capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, open economy, Parag Khanna, Pearl River Delta, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, special economic zone, spectrum auction, The Great Moderation, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, yellow journalism, young professional

Two grand homes in Britain might seem plenty, but Mallya once split his time between a dozen or more: five in India, along with a private South African game reserve and places in Monaco, California, and New York’s Trump Tower.5 Just as Mukesh Ambani built Antilia to tower over Mumbai, so Mallya had built a grand new residence in Bangalore, where his businesses were based. Some years before, he had knocked down his family’s old bungalow and replaced it with a garish skyscraper named Kingfisher Tower. This was partly a commercial venture, with apartments for sale in the lower levels. But perched at the top on a slab of white concrete was a 40,000-square-foot “sky bungalow” for Mallya’s own use, said to be worth $20 million. India’s most conspicuous McMansion looked vaguely like the White House, albeit 400 feet further up in the air. Given his refugee status, it was unclear whether its owner would ever actually get to live in it.6 “It’s not going to happen for a few generations. I mean, it’s a very deep-rooted system of corruption,” he went on, his shoulders hunched, talking about faltering government attempts to cut graft. The revenue authorities were particular offenders, he claimed, demanding bribes many times higher than the value of the tax they were meant to collect.


pages: 538 words: 138,544

The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better by Annie Leonard

air freight, banking crisis, big-box store, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, carbon footprint, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, dematerialisation, employer provided health coverage, energy security, European colonialism, Firefox, Food sovereignty, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, global supply chain, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, intermodal, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, liberation theology, McMansion, Nelson Mandela, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Ralph Nader, renewable energy credits, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, supply-chain management, the built environment, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, union organizing, Wall-E, Whole Earth Review, Zipcar

It made me realize yet again how commercially saturated our landscapes are in the United States and I wondered how that relentless assault affects us all on a daily basis. Second, I noticed the absence of something even more important: homeless people. I didn’t see a single homeless person, shanty, or slum. No trashed neighborhoods. No piles of garbage in the neighborhoods deemed unimportant by municipal officials. The homes we passed were modest compared to U.S. McMansions but were in good shape and well maintained. I asked my guide, local waste expert Alan Watson, where the poor people lived, and he looked at me quizzically. “We have a strong social safety net here, so we don’t have a lot of poor people like you do.” Finally, in a far-off field, I saw a bunch of small structures that looked almost like shanties from a distance. “Aha!” I declared. “So that is where your poor people live.”


pages: 457 words: 128,838

The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Paul Vigna, Michael J. Casey

Airbnb, altcoin, bank run, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, buy and hold, California gold rush, capital controls, carbon footprint, clean water, collaborative economy, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Columbine, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, disintermediation, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, hacker house, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, informal economy, intangible asset, Internet of things, inventory management, Joi Ito, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, litecoin, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, new new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price stability, profit motive, QR code, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, shareholder value, sharing economy, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart contracts, special drawing rights, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Ted Nelson, The Great Moderation, the market place, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing complete, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, underbanked, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, Y2K, zero-sum game, Zimmermann PGP

All you need to do to generate a bitcoin wallet is to generate a large random number, and pretty much anything can do that.” Right now you are probably wondering why we’d give a machine such rights. Because we could program it to provide the cheapest and most efficient service possible, Hearn’s car would be focused on maximizing productivity and surviving, not building up a fat pile of retained earnings to spend on McMansions and trips to the Bahamas. It could keep its profit margins superthin and its prices low. That said, if it brought in more revenue than expenses, the car could be programmed to “have children,” as Hearn puts it, investing its excess bitcoins in new driverless cars that would “inherit” a clone of its software program. To stay ahead of the game the car could also spend its surplus by hiring a human to write it a superior code—after seeking bids for these services via the Tradenet—and then apply special testing protocols to ensure the human isn’t scamming it out of its competitiveness.


pages: 433 words: 129,636

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

1960s counterculture, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, British Empire, call centre, centralized clearinghouse, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, deindustrialization, feminist movement, illegal immigration, mass immigration, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, obamacare, zero-sum game

NationsBank of Charlotte acquired Bank of America in 1998 and the city became B of A headquarters. New York retirees, in turn, flooded the town and Charlotte learned what a bagel was. Six other Fortune 500 companies appeared, as did NBA and NFL franchises, and a silver skyline. Charlotte’s metro area includes almost fifty golf and country clubs. The town’s southern end absorbed the better-off newcomers, who transformed it from cow pastures to a sprawl of McMansions and shopping malls in less than a generation. Latino immigrants came for the jobs, too. Attracted to the state by agriculture and pork slaughterhouse work, they filled in fading North Carolina rural towns, then moved to the more stable work in Charlotte. The city’s Latino population grew faster than any in the country. Prescription pill use rose in Charlotte just as it did across the country with the pain revolution.


pages: 504 words: 129,087

The Ones We've Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America by Charlotte Alter

"side hustle", 4chan, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, carbon footprint, clean water, collective bargaining, Columbine, corporate personhood, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Donald Trump, double helix, East Village, ending welfare as we know it, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Ferguson, Missouri, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gig economy, glass ceiling, Google Hangouts, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), job-hopping, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lyft, mandatory minimum, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, McMansion, medical bankruptcy, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, obamacare, Occupy movement, passive income, pre–internet, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Snapchat, TaskRabbit, too big to fail, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, unpaid internship, We are the 99%, white picket fence, working poor, Works Progress Administration

He spent his first night as mayor sleeping on the couch of a tenant. Jacob Frey (b. 1981) made housing a central focus of his run for mayor of Minneapolis. He called housing a “full-blown crisis for millennials.” Because they were marrying later, having fewer kids, and trying to reduce their carbon footprint, millennials wanted to live someplace dense and walkable, with public transportation: boomers’ exurban McMansions held little appeal for them. Once he was elected, Frey eliminated single-family exclusive zoning in Minneapolis, allowing more duplexes and triplexes to be built as part of a $40 million affordable housing plan for the city. “This is not the American dream of the 1950s, where the whole goal was that white picket fence out in the suburbs with a forty-five-minute commute to work,” Frey told me.


pages: 515 words: 143,055

The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu

1960s counterculture, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, anti-communist, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bob Geldof, borderless world, Brownian motion, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, colonial rule, East Village, future of journalism, George Gilder, Golden Gate Park, Googley, Gordon Gekko, housing crisis, informal economy, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Live Aid, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, Nate Silver, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, placebo effect, post scarcity, race to the bottom, road to serfdom, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Tim Cook: Apple, Torches of Freedom, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, white flight, zero-sum game

Perhaps this was because of the genre’s origins on MTV, or simply youth’s relative willingness to believe in their own chance of achieving fame in their lifetime (outside of the political class, the middle-aged are under fewer such delusions). Nevertheless, over time, programmers found that the reality moss could overgrow other demographics, too: there would be offerings for middle-aged men, like The Deadliest Catch (a show featuring fishermen); ones for women with children, like Wife Swap, focused on keeping house; and for unreconstructed materialists of all ages, Real Housewives, an unscripted soap set in the McMansions of the affluent but never satisfied. Indeed, over the next decade, there would be almost three hundred new reality shows trying almost every conceivable permutation of attention capture tricks, including talent shows (American Idol), launching your successful start-up (Shark Tank); pathology voyeurism, formerly known as freak shows (Hoarders); variations on a theme of The Real World (Jersey Shore, group living featuring the Italian American “Guido” subculture), celebrity family life (The Osbournes, showing the ordinary domesticity of former Black Sabbath front man Ozzy Osbourne); women marrying for money, men for trophy (Million Dollar Matchmaker); making it yourself—a better life through real estate (The Million Dollar Listing).


pages: 717 words: 150,288

Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism by Stephen Graham

addicted to oil, airport security, anti-communist, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, creative destruction, credit crunch, DARPA: Urban Challenge, defense in depth, deindustrialization, digital map, edge city, energy security, European colonialism, failed state, Food sovereignty, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Google Earth, illegal immigration, income inequality, knowledge economy, late capitalism, loose coupling, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, McMansion, megacity, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, one-state solution, pattern recognition, peak oil, planetary scale, private military company, Project for a New American Century, RAND corporation, RFID, Richard Florida, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, smart transportation, surplus humans, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, white flight, white picket fence

It was not an accident that the suburban project faltered briefly in the 1970s, when America’s oil production entered its long decline, OPEC seized the moment, and oil prices shot up. Notice that the final suburban blowout occurred after 1990, when the North Sea and Prudhoe Bay oil strikes came into full production … That ushered in the climactic phase of suburbia, as represented by things like the standard 4000-square-foot Toll Brother’s McMansion and the heyday of the super-gigantic SUV to go with it.40 THE $230 FILL-UP As John Amidon, a lieutenant colonel with the USAF’s Air University, puts it, ‘imported oil dependence has become the proverbial elephant in the [US] foreign policy living-room: an over-riding strategic consideration in a multitude of issues’. Since 2001, he cautions, US energy policy has both overestimated available supply and dramatically underestimated the social and political instability caused by US attempts to manage ‘the major oil producing countries diplomatically and militarily’.


pages: 464 words: 155,696

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli

Albert Einstein, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Bob Noyce, Byte Shop, Charles Lindbergh, computer age, corporate governance, El Camino Real, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, market design, McMansion, Menlo Park, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, QWERTY keyboard, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Tim Cook: Apple, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog

Apple also introduced a new version of its OS X operating system called Panther that came loaded with its own browser, Safari. Two new keyboards were introduced, one of them wireless. Apple’s beautiful flat-screen Cinema Display monitors grew bigger and sharper. The company that had pushed harder than any other to make Wi-Fi the standard protocol for networking introduced Airport Extreme, a heavy-duty Wi-Fi server for home users, and Airport Express, which could extend a Wi-Fi network throughout an entire McMansion. For users who wanted to make their online chats visual, the company started selling iSight, a Web camera that perched atop their computer monitor. A line of Web servers called Xserve, aimed at businesses, also got an upgrade. And last, but hardly least, iPod users got two special treats in 2004: the sleek and slender iPod Mini, and an iPod Classic with a color screen that could display photos.


pages: 526 words: 155,174

Sixty Days and Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson

different worldview, dumpster diving, energy security, full employment, Golden Gate Park, hiring and firing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), McMansion, megacity, mutually assured destruction, off grid, place-making, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RFID, Richard Feynman, Saturday Night Live, urban decay, Works Progress Administration

So as they moved to the next room of the open gallery he tried to change the subject to his own situation, but Phil was absorbed in the Depression statues, which Charlie found less compelling despite their inherent pathos: Americans standing in a bread line, a man sitting listening to a fireside chat on a radio. “I see a nation one-third ill fed, ill housed, ill clothed.” “It’s almost like the problem is the reverse now,” Phil observed. “I see a nation one-third too fat, too clothed, too McMansioned, while the third that is ill fed and ill housed still exists.” “And they’re all in debt, either way.” “Right, but what do you do about that? How do you talk about it?” “Maybe just like you are now. These days, Phil, I think you get to say what you want. Like on your goddam blog.” “You think?” “Yes. But look—Phil. I asked for some time today so I could talk to you about my job. I want to quit.”


pages: 566 words: 155,428

After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead by Alan S. Blinder

"Robert Solow", Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, break the buck, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Detroit bankruptcy, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, financial innovation, fixed income, friendly fire, full employment, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, McMansion, money market fund, moral hazard, naked short selling, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, the payments system, time value of money, too big to fail, working-age population, yield curve, Yogi Berra

Egged on and assisted by an unscrupulous real estate agent looking for a big commission, the Ramirezes obtained a $720,000 mortgage from the notorious (and now bankrupt) New Century Financial Corporation to buy a $720,000 house. Yes, you read that right: They didn’t put a penny down, and the mortgage was forty-eight to sixty times their annual income! The real estate agent apparently recorded their income as $12,000 per month and their occupations as “field technicians.” Slight errors. The Ramirezes moved into their McMansion with another family, and somehow, including receiving financial help from the real estate agent, managed to hang on for a few years before defaulting and losing their home to foreclosure. Now, here’s a simple test of banking IQ: Should that mortgage have been granted? You may not be an experienced banker, but your no answer is correct. Unfortunately, New Century got the answer wrong in 2005 when it actually made this loan and many others like it.


pages: 562 words: 146,544

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Berlin Wall, Burning Man, call centre, digital map, disruptive innovation, double helix, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, high net worth, invisible hand, McMansion, offshore financial centre, optical character recognition, peer-to-peer, plutocrats, Plutocrats, RFID, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, web application

It’s also used by the company for campouts, team-building exercises, things like that.” Sebeck took out a pad and pen. “So you’re the PR guy? What’s CyberStorm Entertainment do, Ron?” “We’re a leading computer game developer. Ever hear of Over the Rhine?” “No.” Burkow shouted from down near the gate. “Pete. I got a name from the DMV. The bike’s registered to a Joseph Pavlos. Lives up in those McMansions on the hilltop.” Massey put a hand to his chin. “Oh man.” “You know the victim?” “Yeah. He’s one of our senior developers. What happened?” Sebeck gestured with his pen. “He hit this cable with his neck. Do you know if he rode down here regularly?” “I don’t, but his development team might.” Pietro returned with a Mexican man in his forties dressed in a green jumpsuit. The guy looked like he’d had a tough life—and that he expected it to get a lot tougher any second.


Eastern USA by Lonely Planet

1960s counterculture, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, bike sharing scheme, Bretton Woods, British Empire, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, Charles Lindbergh, collective bargaining, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, Donald Trump, East Village, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute cuisine, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, immigration reform, information trail, interchangeable parts, jitney, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Mason jar, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, the built environment, the High Line, the payments system, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, Works Progress Administration, young professional

NEW JERSEY FACTS »Nickname Garden State »Population 8.8 million »Area 8722 sq miles »Capital city Trenton (population 85,000) »Other cities Newark (population 277,000) »Sales tax 7% »Birthplace of musician Count Basie (1904−84), singer Frank Sinatra (1915−98), actor Meryl Streep (b 1949), musician Bruce Springsteen (b 1949), actor John Travolta (b 1954), musician Jon Bon Jovi (b 1962), rapper Queen Latifah (b 1970), pop band Jonas Brothers: Kevin (b 1987), Joseph (b 1989), Nicolas (b 1992) »Home of the first movie (1889), first professional baseball game (1896), first drive-in theater (1933), the Statue of Liberty »Politics Republican governor Chris Christie though strong traditionally Democratic legislature »Famous for The Jersey Shore (the real thing and MTV reality show), the setting for The Sopranos, Bruce Springsteen’s musical beginnings »Number of wineries 36 »Driving distances Newark to NYC 11 miles, Atlantic City to NYC 135 miles NEW JERSEY There are McMansions, à la the Real Housewives of New Jersey (NJ), guys who speak with thick Jersey accents like characters from a TV crime drama, and guidos and guidettes who spend their days GTL’ing (gym, tan and laundry) on the Shore. However, the state is at least as well defined by high-tech and banking headquarters and sophisticated, progressive people living in charming towns. Get off the exits, flee the malls and you are privy to a beautiful side of the state: a quarter is farmland and it has 127 miles of beautiful beaches and charming and fun beachside towns, as well, of course, as two of New York City’s greatest icons: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Immersing yourself in the soul, rhythm, history and perseverance of the Delta blues (Click here) in Clarksdale, MS Exploring the caverns, mountains, rivers and forests of Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains (Click here), where folk music reigns Falling for the hauntings, murderous tales and Southern hospitality in Georgia’s living romance novel, the architecturally pristine Savannah (Click here) NORTH CAROLINA It’s trailer parks next to McMansions in North Carolina, where the Old South stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the New South. From the ancient mountains in the west to the sandy barrier islands of the Atlantic you’ll find a variety of cultures and communities not easy to stereotype. The fast-growing state is a patchwork of the progressive and the Stone Age: Asheville was named the ‘New Freak Capital of the US’ by Rolling Stone, while cohabitation of unmarried couples was technically illegal until 2006.


pages: 1,213 words: 376,284

Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, From the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First by Frank Trentmann

Airbnb, Anton Chekhov, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, car-free, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, clean water, collaborative consumption, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, cross-subsidies, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equity premium, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial exclusion, fixed income, food miles, full employment, germ theory of disease, global village, haute cuisine, high net worth, income inequality, index card, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, labour mobility, libertarian paternalism, Livingstone, I presume, longitudinal study, mass immigration, McMansion, mega-rich, moral panic, mortgage debt, Murano, Venice glass, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, post-industrial society, post-materialism, postnationalism / post nation state, profit motive, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, rent control, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, stakhanovite, the built environment, the market place, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional, zero-sum game

Kohler’s Cape Cod model family home advertised new fixtures in the bathroom, but the living room mixed colonial revival furnishings with hand-me-downs to show the continuity of family life across generations.51 Making the family home the pivot of a national culture, then, gave consumption a new legitimacy, connecting past, present and future. Instead of being a threat to family and social stability, consumption now appeared its rock. This message would not be lost on future conservatives. Not everyone agreed. A two-storey 22 by 30 feet home was not exactly a McMansion – by 2005, the median American home had ballooned to almost twice this size (2,300 square feet). Still, the spread of standardized homes raised fears about shallow conformity. No single source expressed this better than Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis’s great American novel. Published in 1922, Babbitt sold a phenomenal 140,000 copies in its first four months.52 H. L. Mencken, the leading critic of the time, praised it for showing the ‘real America’.

Wright Mills pointedly noted that the cover of Life magazine featured not a single debutante ‘but no less than 178 movie queens, professional models, and the like . . . ’ 101 Significantly, it was the post-war decades of rising equality (1950s–’70s) that were also the years of the big consumer boom, in the USA and Western Europe alike. Tail-fins were getting longer in the 1950s. American homes, too, were getting bigger well before McMansions started to mushroom in suburbia in the 1990s. The super-rich were, in fact, downsizing in the 1950s–’60s, abandoning one luxurious mansion in Newport after another for a more ‘normal’ existence. Interestingly, American houses stopped growing in the 2000s, in spite of dizzying bonuses and escalating inequality. Many observers continue to take their inspiration from Thorstein Veblen, the great critic of ‘conspicuous consumption’ in America a century ago, whom we met earlier.


pages: 561 words: 157,589

WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us by Tim O'Reilly

4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, Brewster Kahle, British Empire, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer vision, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, deskilling, DevOps, Donald Davies, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, glass ceiling, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, gravity well, greed is good, Guido van Rossum, High speed trading, hiring and firing, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyperloop, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, information asymmetry, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invisible hand, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Lao Tzu, Larry Wall, Lean Startup, Leonard Kleinrock, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, microbiome, microservices, minimum viable product, mortgage tax deduction, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Oculus Rift, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Buchheit, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Sam Altman, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, SETI@home, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, social web, software as a service, software patent, spectrum auction, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, The Future of Employment, the map is not the territory, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, universal basic income, US Airways Flight 1549, VA Linux, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, yellow journalism, zero-sum game, Zipcar

I work for a Fortune 500 company. I am the 99%.” “I have never been appreciated, in retail, for any potential other than selling other people crap, half of which they do not need, and most of which they probably cannot really afford. I hate being used like that, I want a useful job. I am the 99%.” “We never chose irresponsibly. We were careful not to live outside our means. We bought a humble home and a responsible car; no McMansion, no Hummer. We were OK till my husband was laid off. . . . After six months of unemployment, he was fortunate enough to find work. However, it is 84 miles of commuting a day and it’s 30% less pay. . . . My husband’s fuel costs are almost one of his bi-weekly paychecks. We are in a loss mitigation and loan modification program with our mortgage lender, and struggling with everything we have to keep our little house.


pages: 526 words: 160,601

A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Cannon Gibney

1960s counterculture, 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, business cycle, buy and hold, carbon footprint, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate personhood, Corrections Corporation of America, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, equal pay for equal work, failed state, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Haight Ashbury, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Kitchen Debate, labor-force participation, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, medical bankruptcy, Menlo Park, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, operation paperclip, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, school choice, secular stagnation, self-driving car, shareholder value, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, smart grid, Snapchat, source of truth, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, survivorship bias, TaskRabbit, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, War on Poverty, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Y2K, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

Clinton blithely proceeded with the first nominee even after she disclosed her knowing impropriety; both Clinton and Joe Biden, then on the Judiciary Committee, seemed to be of the view that “everybody does it,” until scandal forced them to proclaim that everybody does not do it.21 Both nominees were (inevitably) Boomers.* Their nominations failed as nativists expressed outrage. Of course, many of those making pilgrimages to Capitol Hill to vent their spleens returned to McMansions tended by their own staff of illegal gardeners, contractors, and nannies. Whatever partisans said, Boomer America wanted these immigrants and the cheap labor they provided, just as they wanted cheap foreign goods. As drug cartels know, where there is demand, there is supply, so immigrants are here, legally and otherwise. It’s incumbent on us to find a decent solution to this Boomer mess, perhaps a modified Bracero project (a migrant worker program that ran from the 1940s to the 1960s) or modest enforcement of tax ID laws.


pages: 522 words: 162,310

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, animal electricity, anti-communist, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, British Empire, Burning Man, California gold rush, Celebration, Florida, centre right, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, failed state, Ferguson, Missouri, God and Mammon, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, high net worth, illegal immigration, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, large denomination, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, McMansion, Mikhail Gorbachev, Minecraft, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, placebo effect, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart meter, Snapchat, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K, young professional

Most New Urbanists want new houses and neighborhoods to be more accurate simulations of houses and neighborhoods from the past. New Urbanism was upscale Disneyfication before the people running Disney called themselves New Urbanists. Celebration is a self-conscious reproduction of some fictional but ideal American town circa 1945, population 7,500, coherent, stylistically consistent, walkable, bikable, and charming. It isn’t gated, and it’s not just a bunch of McMansions plopped around a golf course. It looks like an actual community—although one transplanted from Ohio or Connecticut to the tropics. It’s a fantasy. But if I had to move to central Florida, I might choose to live in Celebration. The Siegels are a Celebration family. When Jim Siegel took early retirement as a Ford executive, he and his wife, Marita, wanted to move someplace warmer than Michigan.


pages: 575 words: 171,599

The Billionaire's Apprentice: The Rise of the Indian-American Elite and the Fall of the Galleon Hedge Fund by Anita Raghavan

airport security, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, business intelligence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, delayed gratification, estate planning, Etonian, glass ceiling, high net worth, kremlinology, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, mass immigration, McMansion, medical residency, Menlo Park, new economy, old-boy network, Ponzi scheme, risk tolerance, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, technology bubble, too big to fail

One time Rengan asked an analyst at Galleon what he should do for his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. Why not cook her dinner, the analyst suggested, adding that women often liked it when men showed their feminine side. “I have a South Asian woman to cook dinner,” he snapped back. Rengan and Raj spoke several times a day, exchanging investment ideas over the phone. On weekends, Rengan often headed to Greenwich. He enjoyed hanging out with Raj and his family at their spacious McMansion in what’s known as Back Country, Greenwich, an area that once housed sprawling horse farms and big estates. Set well away from the main road, behind a stone wall that stretches around the perimeter of the property, the Rajaratnam estate, with a long driveway leading up to the main house, was secluded just like a fly-below-the-radar hedge fund manager would want. Unlike his brother, Rengan was a bachelor who freely confessed to having a hard time meeting the right woman.


pages: 593 words: 189,857

Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy F. Geithner

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, Atul Gawande, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, break the buck, Buckminster Fuller, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Doomsday Book, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, Flash crash, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, implied volatility, Kickstarter, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, negative equity, Northern Rock, obamacare, paradox of thrift, pets.com, price stability, profit maximization, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, selection bias, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, The Great Moderation, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tobin tax, too big to fail, working poor

The complexity of this system and the convoluted web of property rights would make it much harder to implement programs to help homeowners. And while we did commit $50 billion in TARP funds for that purpose, we estimated that about eight million homeowners were at risk of foreclosure, and millions more were in distress. Trying to figure out which ones to help was a thorny policy problem. Our goal was not to subsidize borrowers who splurged on overpriced McMansions and vacation homes and investment properties, or took out home equity loans to buy swimming pools and fancy cars. We knew that a few outrageous stories of aid to reckless speculators and scam artists could cripple support for our entire housing program. We also wanted to avoid spending billions of taxpayer dollars to restructure mortgages for families who would lose their homes even with government help; inevitably, some innocent victims of the crisis would have to move into cheaper homes or rental properties.


California by Sara Benson

airport security, Albert Einstein, Apple II, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Burning Man, buy and hold, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, Columbine, dark matter, desegregation, Donald Trump, Donner party, East Village, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Frank Gehry, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Joan Didion, Khyber Pass, Loma Prieta earthquake, low cost airline, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, planetary scale, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, the new new thing, trade route, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, Wall-E, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional

Today the San Joaquin Valley is beguiling for both travelers and locals, where intense heat and dubious reminders of history and progress are evident through tract houses and rusting tractors, scrawling spray-painted gang signs and the arching spray of irrigation systems. It’s also a place of seismic, often contentious, development. Housing prices in the coastal cities have sprawled eastward to pave over half a million acres in the last decade. Where there were once cattle ranches and vineyards are now the nostalgically named developments of American anyplace: a big-box shopping complex named Indian Ranch, a tidy row of McMansions named Vineyard Estates. To sink your teeth into the region, skip I-5 and travel on Hwy 99 – a road with nearly as long a history as the famous Route 66. It’ll be hot – very hot – so put the windows down and crank up the twangy traditional country or the booming traditional norteño (an accordion-driven genre of folk music imported from Mexico) that dominate the radio. If you have the time, exit often for bushels of the freshest produce on earth and brushes with California’s nearly forgotten past.

CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK Once you get past the parking lots ($10), it’s easy to forget you’re in a crowded metropolitan area at this state beach ( 949-494-3539; www.parks.ca.gov; Pacific Coast Hwy; 6am-sunset), where visitors are treated to 2000 acres of undeveloped woodlands and 3.5 miles of coastline. Everyone thought the hilltops were part of the state park too, until the Irvine Company, the actual landowner, bulldozed them to make room for McMansions that are the dream of many an OC resident. For a more discreet, short-term stay, reserve one of the park’s inland campsites (it’s a 3-mile hike each way) with Reserve America ( 800-444-7275; www.reserveamerica.com; tent sites $15). NEWPORT BAY ECOLOGICAL RESERVE Inland from the harbor, where run-off from the San Bernardino Mountains meets the sea, the brackish water of the Newport Bay Ecological Reserve supports more than 200 species of bird.


pages: 601 words: 193,225

740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building by Michael Gross

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Bonfire of the Vanities, California gold rush, corporate raider, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, Irwin Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, McMansion, mortgage debt, Norman Mailer, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, sensible shoes, short selling, strikebreaker, The Predators' Ball, traveling salesman, Upton Sinclair, urban planning

You’ve paid a lot of cash, so you’re rich. And you’ve passed a co-op controlled by the oldveau crowd, which means you’re acceptable. So you get double bang for your buck.” A co-op at 740 Park, then, is the ultimate sign of arrival: gilt by association with an address that’s now more elevated than most of its residents. Spending $20 million on one of its apartments, rather than on a tacky yacht, an ugly McMansion, or a glass-walled condo, demonstrates not only wealth but taste and readiness (as opposed to willingness) to take a place in the highest echelons of the plutocracy. It’s as refined a form of ostentation as buying a van Gogh at auction, guaranteed to enhance one’s brand and ensure it never loses its desirability. If the cast of characters at 740 Park today seems less colorful than the ones who preceded it, it’s because the residents are types now, not sui generis, life-size, not larger-than.


PostGIS in Action by Regina O. Obe, Leo S. Hsu

call centre, crowdsourcing, database schema, Debian, domain-specific language, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Google Earth, job automation, McMansion, Mercator projection, Network effects, openstreetmap, planetary scale, profit maximization, Ruby on Rails, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, traveling salesman, web application

Contains properly Contains properly is a concept that’s more stringent than the contains or covers relationships. Geometry A contains properly B if all points of B are within the interior of A. Contains properly is faster to compute than other relationship functions because boundaries don’t come into play. If you want to be absolutely certain that one geometry is entirely within another, use contains properly. For example, you may want to make sure your new McMansion is properly contained within one municipality to make sure you’re not going to be taxed twice. Contains properly will give you the same result as contains except in the case where any part of geometry B sits on the boundary of A. Here are a few points to keep in mind about ST_ContainsProperly: It’s not an OGC SQL/MM function; it’s a PostGIS-specific function. It was introduced in PostGIS 1.4.


PostGIS in Action, 2nd Edition by Regina O. Obe, Leo S. Hsu

call centre, crowdsourcing, database schema, Debian, domain-specific language, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Google Earth, job automation, McMansion, megacity, Mercator projection, Network effects, openstreetmap, planetary scale, profit maximization, Ruby on Rails, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, traveling salesman, web application

Geometry A contains properly B if all points of B are within the interior of A. Contains properly is faster to compute than other relationship functions because boundaries don’t come into play. If you want to be absolutely certain that one geometry Licensed to tracy moore <nordick.an@gmail.com> www.it-ebooks.info 231 Relating two geometries is entirely within another, use contains properly. For example, you may want to make sure your new McMansion is properly contained within one municipality to make sure you’re not going to be taxed twice. Contains properly will give you the same result as contains except in the case where any part of geometry B sits on the boundary of A. Here are a few points to keep in mind about ST_ContainsProperly:  It’s not an OGC SQL/MM function; it’s a PostGIS-specific function.  It was introduced in PostGIS 1.4.  It requires GEOS 3.1 or above.


pages: 941 words: 237,152

USA's Best Trips by Sara Benson

Albert Einstein, California gold rush, car-free, carbon footprint, desegregation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Donner party, East Village, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute couture, haute cuisine, if you build it, they will come, indoor plumbing, Kickstarter, lateral thinking, McMansion, mega-rich, New Urbanism, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, the High Line, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, white picket fence, Works Progress Administration

Heading up Rte 9 takes you to lovely New Castle. Unlike many other communities of its size, which tend to give in to quick development cash in the form of fast-food outlets and gas stations, New Castle has realized it can trade in on something better: its aesthetic appeal. The cobblestoned town square, a fringe of lovely park that fronts the Delaware River and well-plotted, dignified middle-class row houses make one weep to think of the McMansions that mar so much of the American suburban landscape. * * * ROUTE 9 ON OUR MINDS It’s not rife with dollhouses, but Rte 9 between Odessa and New Castle is one of the prettiest roads in the state, cutting through a picture-perfect wetland-scape of countless swamps draining into the mirror-flat Delaware River. Well, practically perfect; the looming smokestacks of Salem Nuclear Power Plant in New Jersey, visible from across the river, aren’t the most flattering touch


pages: 944 words: 243,883

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll

addicted to oil, anti-communist, Atul Gawande, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, decarbonisation, energy security, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Google Earth, hydraulic fracturing, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, income inequality, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), inventory management, kremlinology, market fundamentalism, McMansion, medical malpractice, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, profit maximization, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Scramble for Africa, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, smart meter, statistical model, Steve Jobs, WikiLeaks

In the early days after the Exxon gas station opened, new homeowners in the neighborhood topped up their wide-finned Impalas or their 8-cylinder muscle cars while commuting to jobs at restaurants or insurance offices or the industrial sections around Baltimore Harbor. In 1984, Exxon shut its first station in the neighborhood and opened a new one nearby, in the midst of the three-way intersection: Jacksonville Exxon, station number 2-8077, as it was known in the corporation’s vast system of retail gasoline manufacturing and distribution. Suburban sprawl encroached as the years passed, and later, new subdivisions of brick McMansions with granite countertops and chef’s appliances sprang up in the woods. Doctors and city executives refurbished old flagstone farms and transformed them into elegant country estates each worth a million dollars or more. The small ramblers from the 1960s seemed dwarfed by the larger new residences, but all of the area’s homes rose steadily in value as the great American housing bubble inflated.


Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities by Vaclav Smil

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, agricultural Revolution, air freight, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, colonial rule, complexity theory, coronavirus, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, endogenous growth, energy transition, epigenetics, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, hydrogen economy, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Law of Accelerating Returns, longitudinal study, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, megastructure, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, old age dependency ratio, optical character recognition, out of africa, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Republic of Letters, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, technoutopianism, the market place, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, urban sprawl, Vilfredo Pareto, yield curve

And there has been important additional growth beyond the standard, mass-scale housing developments as an increasing share of American houses has been custom-built, and the average size of those structures has surpassed 450 m2 (nearly double the size of mass-built housing) and almost five times the size of a typical Japanese house. Moreover, since the 1980s there has been a discernible trend toward even larger, ostentatious so-called McMansions, with living area in excess of 500 or even 600 m2. Although expensive, they are often poorly built, odd looking, and esthetically offensive. In contrast to this American excess, the recent growth of average living space has remained subdued in both Europe and Japan, but no other country has seen such a rapid growth of living space (albeit from a very low base) as China (including some imitations of American styles).


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton

1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

It is not that we will split the middle but that, quite specifically, we speak different languages, live in different worlds, and have different geophysical relations to capital as a design asset in relation to emergencies. That said, the current ecological emergency extends, rather than supersedes, the importance of totality as interpretive instrument, especially with regards to planetary-scale computation. When I peruse with fascination all the right-wing conspiracies theories about “Green totalitarianism,” Agenda 21, and carbon police confiscating McMansions, I can't help but wonder if the right has a more active and forceful vision (however goofball) for the left than the left does. At the same time, we are sensitive that just as well-meaning initiatives too often sour into failure (and wonder if we should instead design evil things that will decay into something wonderful and successful) we know that the anti-strategy of neo-feudal secession may, however counterintuitively, usher in a geopolitics that provides a platform that—in time—may unwind the social hierarchies that inaugurated it.


Coastal California by Lonely Planet

1960s counterculture, airport security, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, buy and hold, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Donner party, East Village, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Frank Gehry, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, illegal immigration, Joan Didion, Khyber Pass, Kickstarter, Loma Prieta earthquake, low cost airline, Mason jar, McMansion, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, stealth mode startup, Steve Wozniak, trade route, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, white picket fence, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional, Zipcar

Crystal Cove State Park PARK ( 949-494-3539; www.crystalcovestatepark.com; Pacific Coast Hwy; 6am-sunset) Once you get past the parking lots ($15), it’s easy to forget you’re in a crowded metropolitan area at this state park, where visitors are treated to 2000 acres of undeveloped woodlands and 3.5 miles of coastline. Everyone thought the hilltops were part of the state park too, until the Irvine Company, the actual landowner, bulldozed them to make room for McMansions that are the dream of many OC residents. For a more discreet, short-term stay, reserve one of the park’s inland campsites (it’s a 3-mile hike each way) with Reserve America ( 800-444-7275; www.reserveamerica.com; tent sites $20). Newport Bay Ecological Reserve NATURE RESERVE Inland from the harbor, where runoff from the San Bernardino Mountains meets the sea, the brackish water of the Newport Bay Ecological Reserve supports more than 200 species of birds.


pages: 1,066 words: 273,703

Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, break the buck, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, dark matter, deindustrialization, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, diversification, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, friendly fire, full employment, global reserve currency, global supply chain, global value chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, large denomination, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mittelstand, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, new economy, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, old-boy network, open economy, paradox of thrift, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, predatory finance, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, trade liberalization, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, white flight, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, yield curve, éminence grise

For tens of millions of Americans this crisis hit them where it hurt most, at home. But compared with the grand sweep of global economic imbalances and the Sino-American relationship, the mechanics of American mortgage finance cannot but appear a parochial concern. How could this domestic drama shake the world’s financial system and precipitate a global crisis? The simple answer is that real estate may be mundane, and McMansions may be nondescript, but they account for a huge share of total marketable wealth worldwide. By one estimate, the share of American real estate in global wealth is as much as 20 percent.1 American homes account for 9 percent of the total. At the time of the crisis 70 percent of American households owned their own home—more than 80 million in total. Those same households were the greatest source of demand for the world economy.


Northern California Travel Guide by Lonely Planet

Airbnb, Apple II, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, Bay Area Rapid Transit, big-box store, Burning Man, buy and hold, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, dark matter, Donald Trump, Donner party, East Village, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Frank Gehry, friendly fire, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Google bus, Haight Ashbury, haute couture, haute cuisine, housing crisis, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Loma Prieta earthquake, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, McMansion, means of production, Port of Oakland, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, the built environment, trade route, transcontinental railway, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional

The tiny towns scattering the region retain their Main St Americana appeal while slowly embracing the influence of the Latino labor force. This is a place of seismic, often contentious, development. Arrivals from the coastal cities have resulted in unchecked sprawl. What were once actual ranches and vineyards are now nostalgically named developments: a big-box shopping complex named Indian Ranch, a tidy row of McMansions named Vineyard Estates. More green lawns appear as the irrigation systems drain dry. Water rights is the issue on everyone's minds. WATER WARS Through the elaborate politics and machinery of water management, this once-arid region ranks among the most agriculturally productive places in the world, though the profits often go to agribusiness shareholders, not the increasingly disenfranchised family farmer.


USA Travel Guide by Lonely, Planet

1960s counterculture, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, big-box store, bike sharing scheme, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Burning Man, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, Donald Trump, Donner party, East Village, edge city, El Camino Real, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, global village, Golden Gate Park, Guggenheim Bilbao, Haight Ashbury, haute couture, haute cuisine, Hernando de Soto, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, immigration reform, information trail, interchangeable parts, intermodal, jitney, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Mars Rover, Mason jar, mass immigration, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, Menlo Park, Monroe Doctrine, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, off grid, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, starchitect, stealth mode startup, stem cell, supervolcano, the built environment, The Chicago School, the High Line, the payments system, trade route, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional, Zipcar

NEW JERSEY FACTS » Nickname Garden State » Population 8.8 million » Area 8722 sq miles » Capital city Trenton (population 85,000) » Other cities Newark (population 277,000) » Sales tax 7% » Birthplace of musician Count Basie (1904−84), singer Frank Sinatra (1915−98), actor Meryl Streep (b 1949), musician Bruce Springsteen (b 1949), actor John Travolta (b 1954), musician Jon Bon Jovi (b 1962), rapper Queen Latifah (b 1970), pop band Jonas Brothers: Kevin (b 1987), Joseph (b 1989), Nicolas (b 1992) » Home of the first movie (1889), first professional baseball game (1896), first drive-in theater (1933), the Statue of Liberty » Politics Republican governor Chris Christie though strong traditionally Democratic legislature » Famous for The Jersey Shore (the real thing and MTV reality show), the setting for The Sopranos , Bruce Springsteen’s musical beginnings » Number of wineries 36 » Driving distances Newark to NYC 11 miles, Atlantic City to NYC 135 miles NEW JERSEY There are McMansions, à la the Real Housewives of New Jersey (NJ), guys who speak with thick Jersey accents like characters from a TV crime drama, and guidos and guidettes who spend their days GTL’ing (gym, tan and laundry) on the Shore. However, the state is at least as well defined by high-tech and banking headquarters and sophisticated, progressive people living in charming towns. Get off the exits, flee the malls and you are privy to a beautiful side of the state: a quarter is farmland and it has 127 miles of beautiful beaches and charming and fun beachside towns, as well, of course, as two of New York City’s greatest icons: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Immersing yourself in the soul, rhythm, history and perseverance of the Delta blues (Click here) in Clarksdale, MS Exploring the caverns, mountains, rivers and forests of Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains (Click here), where folk music reigns Falling for the hauntings, murderous tales and Southern hospitality in Georgia’s living romance novel, the architecturally pristine Savannah (Click here) NORTH CAROLINA It’s trailer parks next to McMansions in North Carolina, where the Old South stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the New South. From the ancient mountains in the west to the sandy barrier islands of the Atlantic you’ll find a variety of cultures and communities not easy to stereotype. The fast-growing state is a patchwork of the progressive and the Stone Age: Asheville was named the ‘New Freak Capital of the US’ by Rolling Stone, while cohabitation of unmarried couples was technically illegal until 2006.


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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, Broken windows theory, business cycle, California gold rush, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, experimental subject, facts on the ground, failed state, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fudge factor, full employment, George Santayana, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, global village, Henri Poincaré, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, impulse control, income inequality, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, long peace, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, McMansion, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Republic of Letters, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, security theater, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanford prison experiment, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, twin studies, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Whether the nostalgia is for small-town intimacy, ecological sustainability, communitarian solidarity, family values, religious faith, primitive communism, or harmony with the rhythms of nature, everyone longs to turn back the clock. What has technology given us, they say, but alienation, despoliation, social pathology, the loss of meaning, and a consumer culture that is destroying the planet to give us McMansions, SUVs, and reality television? Lamentations of a fall from Eden have a long history in intellectual life, as the historian Arthur Herman has shown in The Idea of Decline in Western History .16 And ever since the 1970s, when romantic nostalgia became the conventional wisdom, statisticians and historians have marshaled facts against it. The titles of their books tell the story: The Good News Is the Bad News Is Wrong, It’s Getting Better All the Time, The Good Old Days—They Were Terrible!


Ireland (Lonely Planet, 9th Edition) by Fionn Davenport

air freight, Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, British Empire, carbon footprint, Celtic Tiger, centre right, credit crunch, glass ceiling, global village, haute cuisine, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jacquard loom, Kickstarter, McMansion, new economy, period drama, reserve currency, risk/return, sustainable-tourism, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, young professional

But it was the arrival of the Celts and their fort-building endeavours that provided the origins of the county’s Irish name, Dún na nGall (Fort of the Foreigner). During the Celtic Tiger years, this took on an altogether different meaning, with cashed-up Dublin developers building holiday homes in some of Donegal’s most pristine beauty spots. Stretches of the coastline have fallen prey to a blitz of bungalows (generally a euphemism for two- or three-storey ‘McMansion’ homes). These rows of identikit houses have clearly diminished the natural beauty of some parts of the county over the past two decades. Areas such as the Bloody Foreland, long celebrated for its stunning sunset views, are now known as ‘Legoland’. An estimated 40% of the county’s homes lie empty for much of the year. In an effort to limit the damage to Donegal’s natural environment, county officials have pressed for tighter zoning laws that stipulate future development be restricted to full-time residents.