New and Old #24

Friday roundup and commentary

Where America’s developed areas are growing: ‘Way off into the horizon’, Washington Post, Zach Levitt and Jess Eng, August 11, 2021

Between 2001 and 2019, the built-up landscape of America — buildings, roads and other structures — has expanded into previously undeveloped areas, adding more than 14,000 square miles of new development across the contiguous United States — an area over five times the size of Delaware.

If you follow Strong Towns, you know how concerning this is. Not because it’s aesthetically ticky-tacky, but because it simultaneously weakens core neighborhoods and produces tremendous future liabilities. How is all that roadway and infrastructure going to be maintained over decades? The county that added the most new developed land was Maricopa, in Arizona. You don’t have to be a global warming alarmist to wonder how that will work out over the long term.

There is some infill too, of course, on land that is already developed. But horizontal, low-density growth at this scale mostly reflects not well-functioning markets, but broken markets.

Deep Roots, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, Tim Ebner, February 12, 2021

Every region seems to have this kind of magazine: mostly lifestyle, with a little bit of journalism and essay writing. They tend to be promotional in nature, showcasing local businesses and entrepreneurs and such, but with a rooted and local ethnic. This one is about collaborations between chefs/restaurant owners in the Chesapeake.

Here’s a hint of what this looks like:

]Bryan] Byrd’s family roots helped connect him to the region’s independent farmers. His sister and brother-in-law, Kasey and Russell Haynie, are first-generation farmers who own and operate Black Sheep Farm in Lively, Va. What started out as hobby farming quickly turned into a larger project, with the couple raising sheep, cows, and pigs, plus seasonal produce, and giving Byrd first dibs on fresh ingredients. 

I think this strikes some people as snooty or “boutique-y.” I don’t think it is. I find it interesting how this approach to fine dining, as modern as it might feel, is pretty much a recapitulation of the kind of local commercial connections that once defined America’s town and regional economies a lot more than they do today. I touched on this more in a piece for Strong Towns on Staunton, Virginia. Read that, and read the Chesapeake piece for a look at local and rooted cuisine in the region.

Playing for Real, Haywire Magazine, Jesse Porch, June 19, 2016

This is a mostly positive take on “augmented reality” gaming, a category of mobile game that uses smartphone technology to superimpose digital elements onto the real world. As a video game genre, it can be quite fun if done well. As a technology, I find it a little concerning. Contrast this game-focused piece with one I recently published at The Week, looking more critically at the technology itself.

Blanc de Franc (White Cabernet Franc) - Chinon, Loire Valley, France, Fringe Wine, Friday, August 19, 2011

Last week I featured an article on what, exactly, Oktoberfest beer is. This time, I’ve got an old blog post on a very interesting and unusual type of wine. I found this because my wife and I tasted one of these at a new winery in Loudoun County, Virginia; other than that tasting, I had never heard of it. It’s a white cabernet franc. If you know your grapes and wines, cabernet franc is red. It’s a major element in many of France’s famous Bordeaux blends. So you might think we’re talking about white cabernet franc the way we talk about white zinfandel: a “blush” or rosé. But this is an honest-to-God white wine, indistinguishable from any other one.

The explanation is that most red grapes have white flesh; the “red” comes from extended contact with the thick, tannic red skins. Most rosés are produced by giving the juice only a little bit of skin contact. The white cabernet franc is produced by giving the juice virtually no skin contact.

If this interests you, read the blog post!

Related Reading:

New and Old #7

New and Old #8

If you like what you’re seeing, please consider a paid subscription to help support this work. You’ll get a Saturday subscribers-only post every week, plus full access to the archive. And you’ll help ensure more material like this!