Patterico's Pontifications


Progress in Today’s World

Filed under: Economics,Environment — DRJ @ 11:50 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

A Yale graduate student discovers life in a box:

Think your apartment is small? Don’t try to tell that to Elizabeth Turnbull.

While studying for her master’s in urban ecology and environmental design, the 24-year-old graduate student at Yale University is living in a truly tiny house.

It measures just 8 1/2 feet wide by 18 1/2 feet long, for a cozy total of 144 square feet.

The goal? Limiting her impact on the environment.

Photos are here.

I don’t see this as an advance. She built her mini-apartment using available funds, bartered for supplies, and hosted burger parties to get donated labor. Her apartment is apparently located in the backyard of a friend’s house, which means she is relying on the kindness of friends. (She also uses their bathroom.) Finally, regardless of what she calls it, she’s living in the equivalent of a small mobile home.

Some of these ideas are good but all of them have been around for a while, especially barter which is more common in hard times that see more shadow economies. So while I’m glad these ideas work for her, they aren’t new and they aren’t advances. Instead, it’s a way to take us back in time.


56 Responses to “Progress in Today’s World”

  1. it’s a way to take us back in time.

    And sponge off others, which fits right in with our modern political landscape. “I’ll save my feet by riding your back”. Pffftt! Seems to me a number of people here do that. How much room do they take in the parent’s basement? About the same, I think.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  2. I was going to say, that looks an awful lot like the trailer the shepherds used to live in where I grew up, minus the self-righteous environmental impact excuse. They generally recognized that living like gypsies wasn’t a choice motivated by moral superiority.

    Hadlowe (3a6161)

  3. Not as stylish perhaps, but there are quite a few converted shipping containers that can be used.
    The are available as temp offices with windows, doors, and A/C; with either finished or unfinished interiors.
    There’s even a storage place in town that entire rows are made up of 20′ containers as storage vaults.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc479c)

  4. She’s in touch with Gore’s dream. Of course, Gore lives in a much larger home. Will she ever recognize the contradiction?

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  5. “Kindness of others” sometimes called mooching off of others. And by using handouts and volunteers she cheated her government out of its deserved (patriotic!) taxes.

    I’m sure she’ll contribute a lot to the world.

    (Let’s see where she lives if it’s a really hard winter.)

    ManlyDad (e3dfe1)

  6. Personally, I would have put the solar panels up on the roof…

    But that’s just me.

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  7. The ladder to the “loft” looks quite unsafe. No running water, only enough power for a a “handful of lights and and a heater”, cooks on a propane stove.

    It’s not “sustainable” if she has to use the neighbor’s bathroom and she’s on borrowed land.

    kimsch (2ce939)

  8. That’s thinking outside of the box.

    No, wait …

    Evil Pundit (42e904)

  9. This is just one of many reasons why I broke from the enviro groups I used to support (and participate in) for many years, org’s like The Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy. They gradually shifted so far over into nutbag Lefty Land that their chief goals basically morphed into wiping the human populace from the land permanently. But before that grand aim is achieved, first we’ll get rid of all the technological advances from the last half – century, then say goodbye to your cars, and then we’ll all live in hovels…welcome to the Stone Age, Part Deux.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  10. This is insanely wasteful. With all the available cave space this idiot goes out and builds something?

    When I see this senseless pile of false idolatry spotlighting this woman’s unquenchable ego, I weep for mother Gaia.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  11. Had she used that foot print to grow a vegetable garden she would have made a bigger ecological impact. I’m sure the friends could have rented her a closet or some thing. Lots of people live in closets during college.

    That’s dunderheaded thinking for you – the show is more important than actually doing anything constructive and effective.

    Vivian Louise (c0f830)

  12. And what about research towards gene manipulation to reverse the trend of human enlargement?
    If we could start making everyone into ‘little people’, then we could effectively downsize everything. This tiny house would be twice as big.
    Also, smaller cars means that you can re-draw the freeway lines without expanding the road – saves a bundle.

    Wars would be cheaper – tiny planes and bombs, not to mention the savings on finally getting that wall built along the southern US border. You could top it out at 6ft – just add a small 4 ft deep water barrier – plenty of deterrence.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  13. I’d be a little disappointed if I were her parents who paid for her Yale degree and this was the best she could come up with. Nothing new or ingenious about it and still reliant upon others for the basics. Of course perhaps the really important distinction is that it is so architecturally stylish that she can avoid the label trailer trash.

    Progress in Today’s World: I have a friend in South Africa who is an architect and she has designed small, economically sound housing for the poor made of a limestone/hay mixture for bick, low cots, natural materials, small impact but no chi-chi philosophy attached to it. a practical need for an overwhelming demand. The use of old dockyard storage containers has also become big as they are abundance and can easily convert into shelter for the most dire need. And that is the difference – there are places that are indeed in dire need, the east coast, not so much.

    Dana (aedf1d)

  14. Dana –…places that are indeed in dire need, the east coast, not so much.

    In dire need of some common sense.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  15. Looks like a low-tech Unabomber’s Cabin, if you ask me. Anybody checking this young woman for rambling, incoherent, anti-technology manifestos?

    Wonder what kind of car she drives?

    Oh, wait, I already know — a P.U.M.A, or “Pelosi’s “Unwanted “Munchkin “Automobile”

    furious (4eb9a0)

  16. Comment by Apogee — 5/23/2009 @ 1:09 pm
    Stiff import restrictions into D.C. and environs.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc479c)

  17. Well, yes, that too, Apogee. It’s funny how one can couch their indulgence in just the right tone, use the correct buzz words, and slap a tag of sustainable, or small footprint, it becomes something to admire.

    Dana (aedf1d)

  18. Dana – did she major in marketing?

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  19. Apogee – In dire need of some common sense.

    Amen. Common sense is lacking on college campuses these days. It wouldn’t bother me so much if the lunacy they got up to made any difference, but it never does. Like the tiny house above, all that does is duplicate already existing shelter, adding to the ‘energy’ burden.

    I had someone lecture me about how much composting helped to prevent global warming. When I asked about the heat that comes off a compost pile and the methane it off gasses as it decomposes he just turned away, insisting that it helped. (Full Disclosure – I compost. But I compost because I like the way my garden grows when I use composted material. It’s all about the tomatoes.)

    Vivian Louise (c0f830)

  20. Oh, and Apogee – I loved the idea – breeding littler people. Hilarious.

    Vivian Louise (c0f830)

  21. I agree, Vivian Louise, live how you want but don’t lecture me. I have absolutely nothing against and rather admire those who seek a sustainable and minimized harmf-to-the-environment lifestyle (which I just call ‘being a responsible adult’) but to make a religion of it and to lecture and teach and moralize is arrogant and really just makes me want to use more electricity than necessary.

    Dana (aedf1d)

  22. Vivian Louise – Thank you, I please to aim.

    As for composting, I don’t mind anyone using composting, or even if they’re ignorant about their impact on el planeto. What gets me steamed is the next step whereby they attempt to limit ‘dirty’ sources of generating energy, preventing landfills and attempting to force the use of certain ‘approved’ materials.

    If I didn’t believe that within a century humans will be killing each other over the land rights to current landfills, I might take them seriously.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  23. All it would take is several generations of severe malnutrition
    (an imposed regime of poverty will do this for you – see Ukraine, 1930’s),
    and we could revert to the stature of our forefathers –
    piece of cake (well, not for you, only for Michelle).

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc479c)

  24. Rush had some fun eviscerating this voluntary poverty concept, recently espoused in a commencement speech by that noted ascetic, Barack “Orchid” Obama. Obama urged students to avoid pursuit of wealth and material things, to sacrifice by working for non-profits and helping poor people, etc.

    Rush said if you really want to help out, get as filthy rich as possible. Then you can be a philanthropist and give these worthy non-profits the money they need to pay all these idealistic people.

    Rush practices what he preaches; he has given millions over the years to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and holds annual fundraisers on his program.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  25. Arugula cake, yum!

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  26. It always amazes me how these people seem to have no idea why many inventions that are taken for granted were invented at all.

    So what does she do for heat in the wintertime? How did she plan for it?

    I hope she has better success than this student group.

    Paul (creator of "Staunch Brayer") (14d6a1)

  27. I don’t see this as an advance.

    That’s not the point. It’s all about “caring.” Caring is all that matters to liberals. Achievement is irrelevant, symbolism rules.

    drjohn (862e69)

  28. Time for a little humor over “Progress”:

    “(Ronald Reagan) was telling a group once about his tumultuous days as governor of California during the rebellious sixties and early 70s. He said he had a meeting with some of the organizers of the protests. They came into his office wearing t-shirts and jeans, and some were barefoot.

    Their spokesman began, “Governor, it’s impossible for your generation to understand us…. You didn’t grow up in a world of instant electronic communications, of cybernetics, of men computing in seconds what once took months, even years, or jet travel, nuclear power, and journeys into space….”

    When the young man finished, Reagan said, “You’re absolutely right. Our generation didn’t have those things when we were growing up. We invented them.”

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc479c)

  29. So, a couple things, did she even attempt to get a building permit? Although I suppose it might be small enough not to need one. In which case the second question I have would also be moot, how could something like that possibly meet building codes?

    I wonder how happy her friends are going to be next insurance inspection round when the agent comes around and sees this thing in the back yard.

    Soronel Haetir (a3f11b)

  30. She used wood, like dead trees, for that thing? Even if the material was donated from contractors and stuff isn’t that ecologically irresponsible?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  31. “- piece of cake (well, not for you, only for Michelle).”

    Oh my – I’ll be snickering over this for weeks to come. Thank you for that! Em

    Em (b2bb53)

  32. This makes about as much sense as saying, “OMG, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and it’s killing the polar bears? I’ll breathe more shallowly!”

    (“Think more shallowly” is more apt.)

    Beldar (01e92d)

  33. Her “lookit me” experiment is pretty worthless in the overall scheme of things. Why? She herself can pull it off as a stunt, and doesn’t even have to account for the costs (and ‘donated’ benefits). But it could only be notable if EVERYBODY could do it, and everybody can’t.

    Any attempt to create housing for say 100 people by such cute means would be blasted out of existence by zoning, health and probably fire regulations. ‘Activists’ would declare the residents to be victims of some horrible capitalist scheme. But let’s suspend those real-world thoughts for a moment.

    If she wants to minimize footprints in urban settings, she should try the following as a first step toward mass, environmentally correct housing:

    On a single-family building lot (say 60×100′ in size), erect four 10’x20′ steel frameworks, each four stories high, equally separated from each other to allow landscaping. In each story of each frame, place one rehabilitated surplus pickup camper or other such living quarters – which will be cheaply available due to fuel prices and draconian laws soon to come.

    Install water, sewer, power, telephone, TV utilities throughout, with automatic sprinklers for fire suppression, and in each frame, stairways for access and one elevator for whoever needs one. Add planter boxes for plants, antennae and solar panels on top for toy power, and bike racks.

    That creates living quarters for 32 people, at eight per frame, in one single-family lot. Each unit would have as much living space as her incomplete demonstration unit does, and would actually be affordable for those with modest incomes. The socially conscious residents of these quarters would of course limit themselves to one child or to same-sex partners, to minimize their own genetic footprint on future generations.

    What’s not to like?

    Insufficiently Sensitive (a939d1)

  34. I am sure once the maternal gene kicks in and the trust fund gets granted, the second home in Martha’s Vineyard will serve as a wonderful nature’s paradise for her to wallow in grandiose ego as she re-educates her husband and her children on how wonderful she is.

    HeavenSent (ac3026)

  35. I thought we were wondering why she doesn’t buy a composting toilet and use the garden hose for an outdoor shower

    SteveG (c99c5c)

  36. If it doesn’t have a bathroom it’s a shed, not a house.

    mojo (930374)

  37. mojo – Absent indoor plumbing, if she won’t take a dump like an animal, she’s just not committed in my book.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  38. Another self-loathing homo sapiens, a genus that once ruled the Earth.

    You will all be happy to know that a TV show lampooning this nonsense is starting Wednesday, so set your Tivos!!

    Watch the trailer, it’s hilarious.

    The Goode Family.

    Patricia (2183bb)

  39. When I lived in a farming community, this was called “migrant housing” for the workers picking berrys. The migrants were trying to work their way up to real housing. It takes a Yalie to work their way down to migrant housing and call it progress.

    Perfect Sense (0922fa)

  40. I have lived in less. Where’s my grant?

    davidt (0c740c)

  41. Great observation, Perfect Sense! Y

    ManlyDad (e3dfe1)

  42. Geez, it’s all so small, she’s going to save a bundle on her Hispanic house cleaner and gardener.

    PC14 (82e46c)

  43. PC14 – @9:12 pm – LMAO!!!

    Vivian Louise (c0f830)

  44. Comment by Patricia — 5/23/2009 @ 6:52 pm

    Patricia, that was really funny. What an endless amount of material to work with, too!

    Dana (aedf1d)

  45. Patricia and Dana,

    Incredibly funny. “WWAGD?” and “What’s important is that you feel guilty about it.” I’m impressed, ABC.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  46. If the liberals seriously believe we need to reduce the earth’s population to husband it’s resources, I am all in favor of them demonstating their commitment by volunteering first for the population reduction program.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  47. That is reallly nice of you to volunteer DR. Perhaps you will live on Mars? Bush said we were going there, but then he spent our money on ‘liberating’ Iraq. Taking off one’s pants can be liberating, and a lot less people would have died.

    Johnnee (ebcc16)

  48. Johnee, great we needed a new troll.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  49. SPQR – like a hole in the head.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  50. Johnee is the hole in the “head”.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc5dea)

  51. Posting emptyheaded comments like Johnnee’s should result in serious physical pain.

    Paul (creator of "Staunch Brayer") (14d6a1)

  52. What’s wrong with wax-impregnated cardboard? There was no need to put in wood floors, wood cabinets, wood paneling, wood frame, and wood siding. Homeless people have been developing revolutionary low-carbon impact housing for generations, and doing a better job of it, the way I see it.

    On the other hand, if this lady was really serious about reducing her carbon footprint in a meaningful way and truly helping mankind, she’d fricking commit suicide. Then we wouldn’t have to listen to her narcissistic whining.

    bobdog (e4052c)

  53. Meh, 10 to 1 she’s in her host’s house every day having a shower, using the bathroom, watching a bit of tv and grabbing something from the fridge.

    If you wanna see really small apartments go to Tokyo or Hong Kong. Here are 100 apartments from the same estate in HK, each is 100 sq.feet.
    Not romantic at all.×100/index.html

    Clive (ce712a)

  54. And here is a TINY tokyo apartment.

    Sorry, she only gets points for self promotion.

    Clive (ce712a)

  55. I wonder how attendance at an institution with an endowment in the tens of billions warps a student’s understanding of money. The school can spend whatever it wants on whatever it wants. It has no financial worry. There is no need for them to charge for for the education these institutions provide, their business model is not based on making money from a product. Their brands are not vulnerable to the competition of the market. Their spending is unconstrained.

    Money is not finite for them, and wealth is not created – it is only used.

    The Obama Admisistration is full of such people.

    Amphipolis (42043b)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.4106 secs.