Good Is the New Bad

It’s midmorning and the temperature has already climbed above eighty degrees. I’m driving a rental car down a sun-drenched Florida freeway, the air conditioning cranked way up while a friendly Google Maps voice directs me past vast, car-dependent housing developments, giant-box retail outlets, Spanish Colonial–style multiplex cinemas, and tall groves of billboards proclaiming miracles of modern cardiology. The air is thick with humidity, the landscape watery, flat, and punctuated with palm trees, stretching for miles at what seems like a mere six inches above sea level. It occurs to me that this scene—with its infinite, built-yesterday sprawl—is the expression of centuries of human dreams and desires. For millions, ...

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