Jason (jcreed) wrote,

Had coffee with that bio grad student from CL; a pleasant way to kill an hour and a half. Where by "coffee" I mean "I had a delicious boylans black cherry soda" because the weather was too warm for tea. Which is what "coffee" usually means, obviously.

Finished "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs. I picked it up randomly at borders basically since I liked the incredibly spare cover design and it sounded like an interesting topic. Turned out it was decently interesting, but it got rambly by the last third or so (of 400 pages) and was fundamentally rather anecdotal-evidencey throughout. Nonetheless I enjoyed the observation that the mere informal policing force of people merely being present on a street can be important in an area feeling "safe", and that overcrowding of dwelling units (that is, high people/rooms) is different from intentionally high geographic density of dwelling units (i.e. rooms/sq. mile), and I'm quite sympathetic to her claim that the former is associated causally with poverty (because if you can't afford to rent a humane amount of space, you'll rent less), and that the latter is not (contra the chorus of pre-1960s city planning orthodoxy she is presumably railing against) and in fact associated with high quality of life because lots of people in the same neighborhood leads to vital and interesting city living.

All in all I liked it a lot as an apologia for living in large cities, though not so much as a coherent narrative or rigorous work of science, not that it particularly claimed to be either of those, but still. It could have been easily half as long or less and still made its points pretty well. (6/10)

Just started to read "Мастер и Маргарита", enjoying it already. (Unlike my earlier abortive attempt at trying something Russian-lit the other month, "Crime and Punishment", which got boring after like three chapters. Or maybe "boring" isn't the right word, but I just couldn't get interested in it. It was like I Love Lucy except depressed instead of zany and murderous instead of... zany? I just... ugh. I don't really like the trope of "omg something went wrong which makes this other thing go wrong and oh boy now the shit is really hitting the fan") Anyway Bulgakov's character of The Devil in my mind looks just like the one in Sinfest, which is great.
Tags: books, social

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