Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A stopped clock.. right twice a day. Perhaps that's the case with a recent column by the Globe and Mail's John Barber.

If only Jane Jacobs could see this - John Barber - Dec 2006

Well - perhaps now that the municipal elections are over, Barber is not constrained by his role as press agent for downtown NDP candidates.

In any event, Barber is right about one thing, Jane Jacobs' last book The Dark Age Ahead was terrible. I read a chapter or so in the book store one day. It was even worse than the pathetic The Ingenuity Gap - abook that I ingeniously used to raise the new flat screen monitor I'm looking at. (I turned a completely useless tome into a practical object - no ingenuity gap here.)

Alas, there are many people who take anything Jane Jacobs wrote as 'gospel'.

I think Jacobs had some good ideas about how a street could work. The trouble is that she didn't see the big picture. In the final years, she turned more and more into an enclavist rather than an urbanist. She become involved in a group opposing a new building at a local school.

In this end, Jacobs' mantra seemed to be that cities are for people, not for schools.

The rest of Barber's column discusses a new book Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic Discovery - (by a David Warsh) . From what Barber tells us, the ideas seem far from new. I guess it's too much to expect a hard-core letfie to have read George Gilder and the like.

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