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Aren't there some high end restaurants doing well in Alexandria's Old Town? Or does that not count as a "suburb"? I would agree that the sorts of strip malls where the funky and not-too-expensive good ethnic restaurants that Tyler favors are probably not in general very good places to try to locate a high end restaurant, which presumably should have some sort of atmosphere contributing to its high prices, which is hardy to establish in such locales.

As I remember, you can walk around Old Town, and you can even walk *to* Old Town. I miss it (lived in Alexandria 15 years ago).

basically, people in the suburbs are too cheap to pay.

Or they don't have expense accounts.

Of course if one goes to the exurbs rather than the suburbs, one finds some of the very best restaurants and doing well, e.g. Inn at Little Washington and L'Auberge Provencale.

French Laundry in CA

1. "Instead, he speaks off-handedly, almost dismissively, of developments like abortion rights and gay marriage as if these “recent” ideas might be passing phantasms in the Western mind, rather than what they really are: crucial to the fulfillment of the promise of App #3, the rights of “Property,” whose definition he usefully expands to cover the individual’s rightful governance of her or his own person, in the pursuit of happiness."

That liberals can't comprehend that opinions like this are questionable is why I take special delight in expressing opinions that they mistake as joining their opposing team. They just can't get past the team thing, IMHO.

John Romano reviews Niall Ferguson.

Plainly he does so in a fit of left-leaning Political Correctness.

I don't know, but are we not further along in most of women's and gay rights than many comparison cultures? It's not to say I'm content, but are those particular margins cause or effect of what Ferguson think explains how The West was won? And do they deserve greater discussion just so Ferguson can signal progressivism? If they do, I'd criticize Ferguson for that, if only to point out that there are not just two teams and to nod to one leaves all the rest neglected, and teaming up is the problem. It seems like the need to fall in line behind "progress" is perhaps what causes such monolithic opinion of the left, IMHO.

Some say it is a good strategy to get ideological enemies to review each others' books, because it creates tension, excitement, etc. But it isn't always true. I gave up 1/3 of the way in.

It's right if aborters and gay marriers don't want anything from anyone else AND if those issues are uncontroversially intrinsic to the property rights Ferguson identifies. I understand why you think this, I don't understand why you would think Ferguson thinks this.

Looks like ol' CBBB is being watched pretty closely.

Hey, bring him back!

He didn't after all call Ferguson a racist like a serious, paid professional.

Just because the previous reviewer made strong allegations doesn't mean they were untrue.

They may even be true, even if that is highly unlikely, but they are certainly the mark of death from a lefty.

Thanks CBBB. You screwed up the reply function.

It also seems like the left can't even conceive that people can disaggregate culture, ideas, and race, which to me seems rather racist.

I don't know, is one of Ferguson's "killer apps" named "Don't forget to be white, because this shiznit is thoroughly good!"

You're banal. Tyler appreciates extreme and ridiculous opinions as much as the next man, but they have to be interesting.

That was to CBBB.

I'd say conservatives have just as much trouble with the 'team thing'.

It's libertarians who, to their credit, don't.

5. It depends. In the Chicago metro area it seems like the trend is for restaurants to have a place downtown and another in the northwest suburbs, presumably because those are the two areas where there's a appropriate density of high income people who would rather not travel to the other place.

Not just the northwest suburbs, as a stroll around downtown Naperville would indicate.

I grew up around Naperville. It's nice, but it's not Lake County.

Fancy dining?
I found plenty of Applebees and Olive Gardens.
Sounds like good eatin's to me.

Trying to find a good restaurant in the Suburbs is a huge pain. The main reason I like the city, as I love exotic, fine dining.

It seems like the suburban food demand would mesh well with the high end small cafes or small gastropub/tapas concept. Stuff it in a strip mall (gasp) with a laundromat and a Starbucks (gasp), locate en route to nicer subdivisions, provide take home options, and maybe some thoughtful low cost by the glass wine pours. This is all ex rectum, but it seems like smaller sq footage combined with low effort to "stop in" on the way home after a late night at the office could make it work.

This works really well in Los Angeles, which is basically 12 smaller 'cities' glued together with suburbs filling in between. Many good restaurants are in strip malls next to laundromats and starbucks and insurance offices. Almost all offer take-out and many deliver. Wine is popular, as is craft beer (it is CA after all) and cocktails.

If you think about it, it's the same exact layout as denser cities, with the addition of parking lots. Lots of people don't like it though.

Why is tyler obsessed with promoting 3rd rate left wing hit jobs on Ferguson's civilisations. It seems a most peculiar hobby.

That was a hit job? After reading the review, I find myself more, not less, likely to read the book. Judging from the review, Civilization sounds more even-handed than I would have expected from Ferguson.

Well I don't know what you were expecting from Ferguson or what you consider even-handed, but you should defiantly read the: vile, ignorant, race baiting hit job that Tyler previously endorsed in relation to this book; to fully appreciate my comment.

That was the Mishra review, right? That was truly an awful, vicious "review" that sullied the already sullied name of the once-great London Review of Books, now the house organ of Zizekian Marxists. But I think Tyler was just being a s---disturber...

I second Tom's point. I assume Tyler called this a review, and not a 'a good, biting' review is that this one doesn't baldly call NF a racist.
Tyler shamed himself before and still needs to disavow that earlier, despicable hit piece.

Its not only fancy dining, its also impossible to find what I'd call non-commercial, american food ("normal food")

I live in NYC but a few months back I accompanied my gf to visit her parents who live 20 miles north of Salisbury, MD. I wasn't thrilled about leaving the city but the prospect of discovering new slice of America and enjoying seafood meals made up for my lack of enthusiasm. I'm from France originally (been here 10 years) and somehow I believed that every township in Maryland would feature a small inn, steeped in Americana, serving regional dishes (seafood, crabs, fish, ..) As it turns out , in the entire Salisbury agglomeration (pop 125,000+) there is a single "fine dining" restaurant (in downtown Salisbury) and a single traditional "crab house" inn of the type I thought would be a mainstay of every town center. The internet reviews for both places were mixed; the inn was closed. The #3 best-reviewed restaurant for the area is .. Red Lobster (according to Yelp)

I drove around the area over the weekend and made the following observations: All activity seemed to be concentrated (over-concentrated) along a 30-mile section of highway between the border of Delaware and Salisbury, an interrupted stretch of malls. But if I left the highway I'd be almost immediately thrown in an entirely different environment: winding roads, farms, ponds, scenic views, forests and picturesque little towns with tidy white houses . Actually I was stunned by the beauty of the area. The houses were extremely well-kept. But just as astonishing: these towns had no retail stores, no restaurants. Occasionally I'd run into a 7-11 type convenience store, usually housed in the cinder-block type structure, typically the most run-down looking building in town. But you can drive hundreds of miles on the backroads of Maryland without encountering a single inn or restaurant. And if you are looking for seafood barely 15 miles inland from the Chesapeake Bay , your only option is likely to be Red Lobster. (As a side-note, in France we have very active and very welcome (imho) policies and incentives for keeping small town retail alive)

I was so determined to have a real Maryland meal that on the drive back we made a huge detour to stop by St Michaels, a scenic town on the Bay, recommended by tour guides. We found a couple steak & crab houses on the water but the food was frankly disappointing (the usual overcooked "blackened catfish" overrun by spicy sauce) . Apparently there are huge swaths of America where its impossible to find such simple delicacies as grilled trout or pan-fried sole filets (or their regional equivalents)

You "policies" to support the small town retail sector are not welcome around here. Import some mexicans and have some tacos, instead.

PRobablly one of the top 10 meals I've eated was at the Inn at Easton.

LOL - 21st century de Tocqueville gets past the bridges and tunnels, discovers a slice of banality, and scurries back behind the safety of the Hudson and East.

"There is truth, of course, to Jared Diamond’s demonstration, in his bien-pensant bestseller, Guns, Germs, and Steel, that the geographical endowment of peoples can play a large, sometimes decisive, role in determining their fate. But too often that argument is allied with a desire to downplay the role played by ideas. If, like Diamond, we are tempted to shun the obvious fact that ideas matter for historical outcomes, it’s because we don’t want even to seem like we’re saying that victors are innately smarter. That, in fact, is by no means Ferguson’s claim. Rather, his emphasis is on the institutional and cultural readiness of a people to encourage and profit from ideas that might arise anywhere. By ignoring this distinction, Pankaj Mishra, in the London Review of Books, is able to imply that Ferguson is a racist, a continuator of the “banner of white supremacy.” But that is to ignore as well the whole evolutionary advantage of having a frontal lobe. Ideas are what enable us to do what we do with the geography we inherit, and where and how to deploy our (sometimes smaller) guns."

I was sympathetic to the Pankaj review, and I have to say that this very delicate disputation of its merits feels a little forced. How exactly is "institutional and cultural readiness of a people" assessed except through a paternalistic lens? I'd argue that it's well nigh impossible to make such sweeping generalizations about groups of people without resorting to racism on some level. Why is Diamond's geographical explanation unsatisfactory? There is room for ideas to act independent of mythical tropes about entire peoples. Need ideas necessarily be associated with cultural stereotypes? This is where Ferguson allows his biases to overwhelm judgment.

The above passage from the review is a bit unfair to Diamond. I don't recall Diamond ever saying ideas don't matter and I distinctly recall him throwing out an obligatory disclaimer on that very point in Guns, Germs and Steel. Rather, his point is that certain geographic conditions and natural resources are necessary but insufficient conditions for a civilization to flourish and some parts of the world simply have more of this raw material than others. It is not ideas alone or geography and natural resources alone that make civilization but rather the complex interaction between the two and Diamond's point was simply that the latter factor was much too neglected in history.

Put differently, Diamond's book is a very broad overview of why Eurasia was advanced by the second half of the millenium while the Americas, Australia, Africa and the Pacific Islands were less so with a wide range of development in this group. If you zoom in on Eurasia and start asking why some societies flourished sometimes and then declined, you get a different set of questions that Diamond can't necessarily answer although environmental degradation probably plays a role sometimes and that is addressed in "Collapse." That doesn't make Diamond's approach invalid as the approach was designed to specifically answer the question of global disparities in development and not disparities within Eurasia.

I miss Bill. Those halcyon days when lefty posters on MR were both intelligent AND older than 16.... oh boy. Hell, even mulp was better than CBBB.

There are more helpful and enlightening reviews of the actual content of Ferguson's book on Amazon.

Personally, I should have loved the book, as it's a subject area I'm intensely interested in, but Ferguson's "killer apps" didn't all work. Ian Morris's Why the West Rules--For Now was a better, more enlightening look despite covering a much larger time period.

I couldn't even make it halfway through Morris's book. I'm very sensitive to the perception that an author is talking down to his readers, and Morris's self-congratulatory smugness was all but seeping off every page.

From one economist's perspective - the interesting comparison is between Ferguson's account of "why" - his killer apps (too cute but that's just my taste) versus Deirdre McCloskey's account based on innovation. Great Ferguson fan as I am I find McCloskey a great deal more convincing. The "institutional arrangements" template is important but less impressive than when first hatched.... and quite why historians can get away with subjective and unsupported generalisation I have never been really sure of.

It also seems like the left can't even conceive that people can disaggregate culture, ideas, and race, which to me seems rather racist.

I don't know, is one of Ferguson's "killer apps" named "Don't forget to be white, because this shit is thoroughly good!"

Romano's review isn't a review of the Ferguson book so much as it's a review of Romano's world view.

Who cares about fancy dinning, I like the hole the wall place makes the best X.

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