Random NotesBooks for your virtual bookshelf: John over at History News notes that the University of California Press has put a few hundred books online for public use. Most of them are a decade old or more, but they are good. Among them is at least one classic book on German Heimat, Celia Applegate's A Nation of Provincials. Also of interest for regionalists:
- The Widening Gate: Bristol and the Atlantic Economy, 1450-1700 by David Harris Sacks
- Environment and Experience: Settlement Culture in Nineteenth-Century Oregon by Peter Boag
- The Russian City Between Tradition and Modernity, 1850-1900 by Daniel Brower
Speaking of religious matters in history, a special mass was celebrated in Rome this weekend for Galen. German reputed the so-called "Lion of Munster" as a hero of Catholic resistance to Nazism for his sermons criticizing euthanasia. His reputation has taken a hit in recent years because his criticism were circumscribed because he stood up mostly for Catholics; he did not defend the range of Nazi victims or the policies of the Third Reich. Faced with recent scholarship that has shown collaboration between the Catholic Church and Fascism, theologians and Church historians have rallied around Galen, saying that Galen resisted as best he could during the years of oppression of Catholics.
Can Jews criticize Israel? Judith Butler and Lawrence Summers have battled this one out for a while. Now talk show personality Denis Prager has chimed in on anti-Zionism in the university. He insists that academia has become a place in which self-hatred is being made.
Yet universities have become society's primary breeding ground for hatred of Israel. This hatred is often so intense that the college campus has become a haven for people who use anti-Zionism to mask their anti-Semitism. Moreover, anti-Zionism itself is a form of anti-Semitism, even if some Jews share it. Why? Because anti-Zionism is not simply criticism of Israel, which is as legitimate as criticism of any country. Anti-Zionism means that Israel as a Jewish state has no right to exist. And when a person argues that only one country in the world is unworthy of existence — and that happens to be the one Jewish country in the world — one is engaged in anti-Semitism, whether personally anti-Semitic or not.Nouveau Urbanism. Geitner Simmons notes an article in the Boston Globe that reconsiders the historicity and danger of suburbia. Rather than raising alarms about urban flight and the monotonous flatness, suburbs should be embraced as an American settlement pattern. I would take issue with at least one historical example given by the article.
From ancient Rome and China to 19th-century London to Paris and Los Angeles today, society has spread out during economic good times.When Roman aristocrats established themselves outside the city, they never abandoned the affairs of Rome and never stopped contributing to the development and beautification of the city. When Americans leave the city, the separation (with the exception of employment) is almost always permanent.
Arguing against urban regionalism, Josh of 15MB of Fame claims that cities ought not take the responsibility for transportation within their regions. Suburbs are parasites of urban institutions. Cities should not include their regions as part of their development schemes; they are better served drawing sharper distinctions between themselves and the suburbs.
In the modern city, suburbs have grown up around cities as a means to enjoy the economic or cultural benefits of the city without contributing to the tax base. Land use laws in suburbs effectively protect against city “problems” (like density, multi-family housing, crowded schools, mass transit), but the suburbs remain close enough to the urban core to provide jobs, culture, and human conviviality. ...Suburbs can dissipate the uniqueness of cities. Regionalism, in itself, does not contribute to this problem if it forces suburbs into a tighter political relationship with the city (side note: some French politicians feel that the laws of urban agglomeration aren't working to create cooperation, as they should). At least some cities can use the development of public service to increase cooperation between political entities. Los Angeles' growth in the early 20th century was clearly tied to the building of the aqueduct by William Mulholland, forcing the incorporation of both the basin and the valley into the city.
Great cities have always stood apart from their surroundings and endowed their citizens with gifts that set them apart from other cities.
The new Carnivalesque is up at Archaeastronomy.
Finally, Pruned, a blog by a landscape architect. Alexander deals with a wide range of spatial topics. Check out this post on the bizarre Jean-Jacques Lequeu.