Skyscrapers have sprouted like mushrooms in our urban landscapes. But in an environmentally depleted, energy-pinched era, we need to take a closer look at the downsides of movin’ on up to the sky. We especially need to pay attention to embodied energy and all the features required to keep skyscrapers standing: uninterrupted supplies of electricity, reliable water treatment systems, functional waste removal, and mechanized transport. It’s time to question the quixotic quest to build ever higher, consider alternatives for sustainable landscapes, and take precautions to prevent tragic instances of accidental self defenestration. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.

Transcript

Jason Bradford

Hi, I’m Jason Bradford,

Asher Miller

I’m Asher Miller.

Rob Dietz

And I’m Rob Dietz. Welcome to Crazy Town where grandma has to carry groceries up 97 flights of stairs just to get to the kitchen.

Melody Travers

This is producer Melody Travers. In this season of Crazy Town, Jason, Asher, and Rob are exploring the watershed moments in history that have led humanity into the cascading crises we face in the 21st century. Today’s episode is about skyscrapers and the Great Race to colonize the sky. The watershed moment took place in 1850. At the time, the estimated carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was 285 parts per million, and the global human population was 1.26 billion.

Rob Dietz

So I grew up listening to the radio. As I’m sure you did, Jason and Asher, as well, right?

Jason Bradford

I loved it. Yes.

Asher Miller

Yep. WKRC in Cincinnati. That was my favorite station.

Rob Dietz

That’s pretty old. Well, the pop station in my hometown of Atlanta used to introduce itself on the air. It would say, Z93 broadcasting from the top of the world’s tallest hotel. And it was this point of pride in Atlanta. We had the world’s tallest hotel.

Asher Miller

That was the only point of pride?

Jason Bradford

The Atlanta Braves were pretty good in those days.

Rob Dietz

There were a few. Yeah, we had some, you know, MLK, that’s a point of pride.

Jason Bradford

Dale Murphy, for God’s sakes.

Rob Dietz

But the world’s tallest hotel was the Peachtree Plaza. And I thought it was an amazing… it was this giant glass cylinder of a building and I thought it was pretty amazing. But you look at it later and you’re like, wow, they really had to qualify that. Like the world’s tallest hotel with a glass facade that had, you know… It’s like how many subcategories do you need to do to claim the tallest thing?

Jason Bradford

Because other hotels started getting built, probably, that were taller, but they weren’t quite the same.

Rob Dietz

Wasn’t a hotel, was it?

Jason Bradford

Right. Yeah. Okay. Okay.

Rob Dietz

So anyway, I bring this up, because well, our last episode was about positive thinking, you know, and the power of it.

Asher Miller

I’ve been changed ever since we recorded it.

Rob Dietz

You’re so much more pleasant to be around. I love it. You remind me of Joel Osteen. Well, in that episode, we touched on quackery in the field of medicine, right? The watershed moment was the guy who kicked off this positive thinking craze by willing away his tuberculosis. So we’re gonna stick on that theme for a few minutes with a character. I want to introduce you guys to a name, Dr. David Jane. Okay, this guy got a real medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1822.

Asher Miller

I’m sure the medical degrees then were like, top notch, right?

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Well, when I read that he went to Penn, which we’ve talked about is my alma mater, I’m realizing that half the villains in Crazy Town seem to have come from my university.

Asher Miller

Including you.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I know. I’m one of them. It’s starting to get kind of distressing. You got Donald Trump that we’ve talked about. We talked about the junk bond guy, Michael Milken. We’ve talked about Elon Musk a lot.

Asher Miller

Did he really? He went to Penn, too?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, now we got David Jane.

Jason Bradford

That’s pretty good lineup.

Rob Dietz

However, I do want to say we can also claim John Legend, Noam Chomsky, and the famous suffragist Alice Paul, among others. So it’s not all bad.

Jason Bradford

It was balanced.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. fair and balanced. Like Fox News, right? Anyways, back to David Jane. Okay, so he opened a drug store in Philadelphia in 1836. And he sold his line of pills and balsams and liniment.

Jason Bradford

What’s a liniment?

Rob Dietz

I don’t know. Is there a difference between a liniment and a balsam? I’m not sure.

Jason Bradford

I don’t know. I’m gonna look this up though.

Rob Dietz

Some kind of oil you rub on your skin. And he also had a mail order business. So I think he was like, the early Jeff Bezos here. But the way that he sold his stuff is he put out this monthly almanac that he called “Dr. D. Jane’s Medical Almanac and Guide to Health.” And it contained stuff like the planetary orbits of course and tide tables, but then he had all this stuff on poisoning and intestinal worms and of course, plentiful ads and testimonials for all his tonics and pills. So if you’ll humor me for a sec, I want to read you guys one of his ads.

Jason Bradford

Okay, I can’t wait.

Rob Dietz

This is for Jane’s carminative balsam. Do you know what carminative means?

Asher Miller

I just want to say carminative balsam over and over again.

Jason Bradford

Oh my gosh.

Rob Dietz

Carminative means that it relieves flatulence. I had no idea about this excellent word, but I’m gonna…

Jason Bradford

This a great podcast to learn. We learn so much.

Rob Dietz

I know.

Asher Miller

You just wanted an excuse to bring that somehow into the topic.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I mean it doesn’t just deal with – listen to what it can do. This is the ad right here: “This is the most excellent, safe, speedy and almost infallible remedy for dysentery, diarrhea or looseness, Asiatic cholera, cholera-morbus, cholera-infantum, or summer complaint, cramps, colic, griping pains, sour stomach, sick and nervous headache, pain or sickness of the stomach, vomiting, restlessness and inability to sleep, wind in the stomach and bowels, hysterics, nervous tremors and twitchings, sea-sickness, fretting and crying Infants, and for all bowel affections and nervous diseases. Thousands of certificates have been received from physicians, clergymen and families of the first respectability, bearing the strongest testimony in its favor.”

Asher Miller

There’s so much there. Like, does it actually get rid of babies? Is that? Did I hear that right?

Rob Dietz

No, I don’t think you heard it right. I think it just…

Asher Miller

Does it get rid of crying infants?

Jason Bradford

Makes them stop.

Rob Dietz

Fretting and crying infants. And I think it stops the fretting and crying.

Asher Miller

Oh, it does not get rid of the infant.

Jason Bradford

They go numb.

Asher Miller

If they had to list like possible side effects then… I would have loved to have heard possible side effects.

Rob Dietz

Oh, yeah. Like they do now on those radio ads. Yeah. Well, anyway, as you might guess, an ad like that, for this cure-all that covered all that stuff. It worked really well.

Jason Bradford

You know, that makes me think. Like, you know, people complain nowadays about the FDA and bureaucracy and the technocracy and too much oversight. And, you know, libertarians are up in arms about all this. But it’s like, this is why that was all done.

Asher Miller

You don’t say this stuff could have worked really well, Jason. No more crying babies ever.

Rob Dietz

Well, I’ll tell you what it really worked for was making this guy a lot of money. Like I said, it’s not that big of a stretch to call him the Jeff Bezos of his time. So what do you do when you when you make a lot of money? Well, you find somebody to build you a really big building?

Asher Miller

Of course. I mean, that’s the first thing I think.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. So that’s our watershed moment is when Jane worked with a carpenter, architect, what is that? Like a “carpitecht”? To build himself some high rise office space. And this is downtown Philly. The project cost half a million dollars. And he set it up with, you know, exam rooms and waiting rooms and laboratories and a warehouse and all that. And it was a total of 10 stories tall. Eight of those were functional. The top two are kind of more of a wooden observation deck. And guests could go up there and look out over the city. But you can arguably chalk that up to being the first skyscraper that was ever built.

Asher Miller

So it was the tallest building in Philadelphia, obviously.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, yeah, it was. If you want to look it up, you can Google the “Dr. David Jane and his building,” and you can kind of see an old photo of the street and how it’s –

Jason Bradford

So 1850? Is that when that was built?

Rob Dietz

Yep. 1850.

Asher Miller

And it lasted like 100 years or something, right?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, it was 108 years. It got demolished in 1958. Despite all this hubbub around, “Oh, can we make this a historical landmark” and whatnot. But nope, knocked it down.

Asher Miller

So we’re talking about skyscrapers today, right? That’s our thing.

Rob Dietz

That’s what we’re rolling with. So –

Jason Bradford

That’s a pretty weak little skyscraper. 10 stories. Like that was a big deal at the time.

Asher Miller

Give the dude a break, man.

Jason Bradford

Okay.

Asher Miller

Yeah, it’s actually disputed, of course, everything gets disputed. So it’s disputed whether or not that was the first skyscraper. There’s another building called the The Home Insurance building in Chicago. Built in 1885. I think that was like 180 feet tall or something like that. Of course, it depends on what you how you define what a skyscraper is. None of them were actually scraping the sky. Let’s be real about it.

Jason Bradford

Okay, okay. So basically, we’re talking about these tall, human made structures. Artificially built tall structures. So there’s probably been a lot of stuff – It seems like there’s probably been stuff back in the day that’s taller than this 10 story thing. Like, what’s the history of this?

Rob Dietz

I mean, we could go prior to Jane and just talk about tall stuff first for a sec, right?

Jason Bradford

Okay, but his thing was it was a commercial building in a downtown that’s selling stuff. So that’s where it’s called the skyscraper. But yeah, there’s been taller stuff built before probably, right?

Asher Miller

Yeah, I mean, if you go back – I mean, I think in the historical record, probably the big one to look at, although these are not buildings for people to work in or to live in, necessarily. But you look at the Pisa, the Great Pyramid of Pisa – or Giza. Sorry, why did I say Pisa?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, the Leaning Tower of Giza and the Pyramid of Pisa.

Jason Bradford

The pyramids, right? Some people have been buried there, but not living there. But those are the tallest structures humans had built. And in fact, like, if you look at the Great Pyramid of Giza, that’s the largest, 481 feet tall. That was built, you know, around 2500 BCE. And that was the largest structure for a really, really, really, really long time.

Rob Dietz

Do you think they knew? They didn’t know, right? They just got lucky.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, it wasn’t until Old St. Paul’s Cathedral in England at 489 feet. They got it eight feet taller, and that was in 1221.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, that’s a total – I’m sure they knew, you know, somehow. It came to them in a dream or something.

Asher Miller

Well, 1221.

Jason Bradford
That’s impressive. I mean, you think we could have done better that with the Washington Monument in the United States Capitol Mall area, which was only, it’s bigger, okay? It’s 555 feet. But that was in 1888. So you know, that’s over 600 years later than Old St. Paul’s Cathedral. And it’s a pretty simple thing. You just kind of go up.

Asher Miller

Would we call that a skyscraper?

Rob Dietz

It’s an obelisk with a staircase in it.

Asher Miller

I guess. I guess you can go inside of it.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. Now, these are just sort of tall structures. But I think when we’re talking about skyscrapers were really meaning buildings that you kind of inhabit for various parts.

Rob Dietz

I mean, what was going on is up until that point, everything was built basically out of stone. You had these mineral base buildings, right? And then –

Asher Miller

Well wood, right? I mean. . .

Rob Dietz

What’s that?

Asher Miller

The buildings were made out of wood.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, but I’m saying these tall ones like all have some kind of stone structure, at least in the foundation. And it’s really the evolution of those techniques of how do you build these things tall that allowed Jane and then later others. You mentioned the one in Chicago, the Home Insurance building, That one’s called out because it’s one of the first ones that had a metal skeleton to help support the building. And that was really the problem that that people were trying to overcome. If you’re building up, you got to overcome gravity. So if you’re building out of stuff like the Washington Monument, these blocks of rock, you’re basically having to build those things thicker and thicker the taller the building you want.

Jason Bradford

Because it’s so heavy. Stone on stone. It’s just ridiculous.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, and think about like how not functional a building becomes when you have to have an 11-foot thick wall, right? Try putting a window through that sucker. So, in overcoming gravity, you’ve got to start building with other materials. And so that, you know, it’s Industrial Revolution time, that’s when you start getting iron, and then steel skeletal structures. And you know, after that Home Insurance building was built in 1885, it was only four years later that the Eiffel Tower sprang up. And that sucker is 934 feet tall.

Jason Bradford

But then we get back these buildings, though, you know, I’m familiar with, they’ll have the I-Beam steel skeletons, but then they’ll also be a lot of concrete pours. But it’s more like they’re using then the skeleton to help support that.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, yeah, for sure. And as you build taller and taller, you start running into these problems. Like you need a huge foundation, or you need to brace against the wind. So,  all these other engineering advancements start coming into play. And one of the things that really pushed it along, you know, you think like, this is an architect or structural engineer somewhere just planning this. But it was really, when mainframe computers came online, you could do a lot more calculations that allow the engineers then to design and come up with more and more configurations that were taller, stiffer, use less steel per square foot, and then you had composite materials and all these technologies. Also, you had the technologies for the inside of the building that was developing. I mean, I guess you could have the chicken or egg question Which came first, the skyscraper or the high speed elevator right? Because you’re you’re not having much of a building if people can’t get up to the top of it.

Asher Miller

Well definitely an elevator. I wonder about the high speed elevator. That must have came after.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. Do you know if the first skyscraper we talked about from 1850? Did that have an elevator?

Rob Dietz

I have no idea. If it did, it was probably some dude at the top who was really strong and just pulled people up.

Jason Bradford

Because that’s what I understand is that a lot of these buildings just didn’t go any higher because it was impractical to expect people to walk up so far.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. When I was in college, we lived in this 24-story dorm, and I once raced a couple of friends of mine. There were three stairwells and we each got our own stairwell and raced up it. I will say that is the most tired I have ever been I think in my entire life. Like when we got done, I was like sort of spitting to keep from vomiting. I could taste blood in my mouth kind of thing.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I’m just thinking about also like, all the mechanical systems that have to come into play for like moving air, moving water. And of course, that requires electricity if you’re getting these big buildings.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, you’re exactly right. There was a sort of dual technological development going on. It’s the building structure itself, but also, how do we work the interiors of these buildings in the services?

Jason Bradford

And lighting, right?

Asher Miller

Well, but it definitely led to a craze right? There was a certain point in time where it hit this kind of critical mass of skyscraper building, and famously, obviously, in New York City, and there are these amazing photos of the guys working on building those skyscrapers, like way up in the sky. You know, like, hanging out and eating their lunches, you know.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, pretty badass.

Asher Miller

Pretty incredible, you know. And I’m a guy who doesn’t like heights. Even looking at those photos kind of freaks me out. But yeah, you had this craze happen in New York.

Rob Dietz

No safety systems whatsoever. It’s like a guy on a swinging girder, hanging on with his leg.

Asher Miller

Well, you were talking about bureaucratic systems, Jason, earlier. But I guess all those early builders of skyscrapers are glad there was no OSHA around. Can you imagine?

Jason Bradford

Right. I wonder how many people didn’t make it on these buildings?

Asher Miller

Yeah. That’s a good question. Yeah. So you know, this kind of craze took over New York City and Chicago. Those are sort of main hubs of this. But obviously, there were other cities that had their share of skyscraper buildings.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, like Atlanta with the world’s tallest hotel.

Asher Miller

That was the pinnacle of the whole thing.

Jason Bradford

Well, you know, when I was growing up, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. And San Francisco was always just super impressive because it was the only place around in my region, you can go and see these things. And I ended up working in downtown San Francisco, off and on for this company that – I wasn’t always there, but I would go visit the San Francisco headquarters. It was in a skyscraper in the financial district. And the views you know, you were just in awe much of the time about being up there, a few 100 feet above the ground, and looking at the Bay and the bridges and the little people in traffic and the other skyscrapers in your midst and watching the sun move. It is quite spectacular I must say, to be inside these things.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I definitely see the kind of inspiration side of it. I had a an experience like that in Chicago. I was visiting a relative. Did you guys ever see the old “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” movie?

Jason Bradford

Oh, yeah.

Asher Miller

The question is how many times?

Rob Dietz

Right, right. Well, and that’s carried over today. A lot of kids have seen that movie.

Asher Miller

I showed it to my kids. They didn’t like it as much as I had hoped.

Rob Dietz

Well, they probably have better taste. But if you remember that movie, the actual day off, besides like ditching school, the first thing they do is they go what was then known as the Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower in Chicago, and they go up to the top of it, the three characters, Ferris Bueller and his girlfriend Sloane and his best friend Cameron. And they get to the observation place inside and in Ferris is like, “Okay everybody, stand up on the railing and put your head against the glass and look out.” And he says, “Isn’t that great?” And Sloane is like, “Oh, the city looks so peaceful from up here.” And then Ferris says, Anything is peaceful from 1,353 feet.” And then Cameron’s like, “I think I see my dad. That son of a bitch is down there somewhere.” So I don’t know. It was making me think. Maybe Asher, you’re the Cameron of this podcast.

Asher Miller

I’ve often been accused of that.

Rob Dietz

But we did this in Chicago, that exact experience. So you know, go up to the top of the Sears Tower, put your Ferris Bueller head against the glass and look out. And it’s kind of like personal level exciting, whatever. But I think the bigger thing to note here is this was a point of pride for the nation. It’s like America, Chicago, New York City, maybe San Francisco, I don’t know. Maybe Atlanta. But we’re like the skyscraper hub.

Jason Bradford

When I was a kid, we had the biggest and best skyscrapers. I remember that.

Asher Miller

Yeah. And now we don’t even have Sears anymore.

Jason Bradford

I mean, I knew how many floors were in the skyscrapers. Like I could tell you. I think it was like 106 in the Sears Tower, or something like that. 72 in another one.

Rob Dietz

They’re talking about, like, throwing you off the Empire State Building. Like it was just part of the culture. But that’s all kind of evolved now. And to highlight that evolution, I want to have a game show with the two of you on international skyscrapericity? Skyscraperhood? Skyscraperification?

Jason Bradford

Excellent. Let’s do this.

Rob Dietz

Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do. What I want to set up is that each of you gets to pick a city, an international city outside of the United States. And what you’re trying to do, you’re each going to get three cities, okay? And you’re trying to pick the cities that have the most skyscrapers in them. So we’re going to total up your three cities, and we’re going to see who’s got the better knowledge here. I should let the audience know that beforehand we had an epic Rock Paper Scissors match.

Jason Bradford

Yes.

Rob Dietz

It took like 27 rounds.

Asher Miller

I finally won.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, Asher’s got a leg up in this competition. He goes first. So you, Asher get to draft your first city. What’s it gonna be?

Asher Miller

I’m thinking  gotta go. . .  I gotta go somewhere in China. So I’m gonna say Shanghai.

Rob Dietz

Okay. All right.

Jason Bradford

That was gonna be my number one. Ah, okay. Well, most of the big stuff is there now. So, I’m gonna go with Hong Kong.

Rob Dietz

Okay, okay, that’s a good choice. Let’s go take it back over to Asher.

Asher Miller

Oh man, don’t call that China.

Jason Bradford

I know. I know.

Asher Miller

That’s controversial. I’m gonna stick with China. Let’s go with Beijing.

Rob Dietz

Okay, we’re getting a very China centric skyscraper draft.

Rob Dietz

That’s one of the biggest cities –

Rob Dietz

The number two pick on the Jason Bradford side?

Jason Bradford

Okay, well. I’m gonna move it around a little bit. Big urban center. Let’s go with Singapore.

Rob Dietz

Okay, staying over there and in the east. Back to you Asher. You’re on the clock.

Asher Miller

I’m going to stay east, again. I’m thinking about big, big, big cities, right? Lots of people. Let’s go Tokyo.

Jason Bradford

Oooh. That’s a good one. Sprawling. Massive.

Rob Dietz

Alright, let’s finish it off. Jason, your final pick.

Jason Bradford

Oh, what do I even call this? I mean, I don’t know. I’m very sensitive now. I’m gonna call it Taipei. I’m not gonna what nation it’s in.

Rob Dietz

Okay. I would call it Taiwan. I think that’s alright.

Jason Bradford

Okay. Okay. I didn’t know if I’d get in trouble.

Rob Dietz

Okay, so Asher’s team is Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo versus Jason’s team, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei. Are you guys ready? Okay, your winner is – I’m gonna just announce the winner. Okay, your winner is Jason!

Asher Miller

Oh, man. Why?

Rob Dietz

So here’s why. Because he got the dominant city. Hong Kong has 518 skyscrapers, maybe number one on the list. Thank you, Asher. Your your top pick of Shanghai has 180.

Jason Bradford

What’s funny is I was gonna go with Shanghai. I’m lucky you went first.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, that was fifth on the on the list. Beijing has 52. Tokyo, I know it’s 27th on the list. Tokyo has 165. Anyway, we will post a link to it. This is all sponsored by Wikipedia anyway, so anyone can find this. But but the idea is, you know, we’ll put some lists there.

Asher Miller

Say that number again for Hong Kong. How many were there?

Rob Dietz

Jason Bradford

Yeah, it’s crazy.

Rob Dietz

So Jason, you can gloat. You won 628 to 397.

Jason Bradford

Oh, wow. I got double.

Asher Miller

I don’t even think we have 528 buildings in Corvallis.

Jason Bradford

Wow.

Rob Dietz

So this sort of internationalization though really got kicked off in a big way with, you know those Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Jason Bradford

Yes. In fact, I was there in 1996. And they were almost done. And here it is what was the funny part though. At that time, I learned that they were upset in Malaysia because somewhere else was about to surpass them.

Asher Miller

They hadn’t even finished yet?

Jason Bradford

They hadn’t quite finished. But they already knew that someone was going to get bigger.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Just 1998 was when they opened and they were the tallest at the time. So then Taipei 101 comes along in 2004, and just demolishes it. It went up to 1667 feet. And I was actually in Taipei just after it was finished. And I gotta say that was a surreal frickin building. First of all, it’s set apart from the other skyscrapers. You know what I’m sure it had to do with, Holy shit. We cannot afford the footprint in downtown Taipei to build this thing. We gotta get kind of away. And then when you enter the place, the first thing you notice it’s a consumerism nightmare. Like the bottom of the thing is all like posh shopping mall eatery stuff. There were like fancy sports cars parked inside the building so you can drool over those.

Asher Miller

That’s all you need. They probably have everything you need so you never have to leave the place.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. And then I also remember like taking the elevator. It’s one of those like ear popping things. You know, it just like so fast. And the view was, I gotta say, pretty damn impressive.

Jason Bradford

You went there, too? Better than the Sears Tower.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I mean, I felt like it was on a par with the hills and mountains that that surround the city. I mean, it is nuts.

Asher Miller

That’s crazy. So, you were there like, what? 2000?

Rob Dietz

Probably 2006 or seven. So a couple of years after.

Asher Miller

I mean, things are even more crazy now, right? I mean, I think the tallest building now is the Burj Khalifa. Hopefully I’m pronouncing that right. In Dubai. And that’s, you’re saying, the Taipei 101 was 1667 feet?

Rob Dietz

Yeah.

Asher Miller

So this building in Dubai is 2770.

Jason Bradford

Ah, that’s crazy.

Rob Dietz

Well it’s perfect, though. I mean, isn’t Dubai…

Asher Miller

It’s like another 1000 feet higher.

Jason Bradford

It’s almost over half a mile.

Asher Miller

And well speaking of which, there’s another one being built right now in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. And that’s going to be over a kilometer high. That’s 3280 feet or something.

Jason Bradford

Ah, can you?

Asher Miller

That’s just –

Rob Dietz

It is nuts. But, you know, leave it to Dubai, at least for now, that seems to be our Crazy Town poster child city. A desert. They’re building new lands out there.

Asher Miller

Islands, yeah. With different shapes.

Jason Bradford

So let’s step back. Now we’ve reviewed the madness of our state of being. Now let’s step back, and let’s ask ourselves, what drove all of this?

Asher Miller

That’s a good question. Well, can we just start with just the hubris of thinking we can. It’s almost this desire to accomplish this feat and keep testing ourselves and pushing ourselves and kind of surpassing the idea of limits.

Rob Dietz

I hear a biblical story coming on.

Asher Miller

Well, yeah, it does make me think of the Tower of Babel story, right? Like, maybe that was the tallest building ever for a while, but it didn’t last forever.

Rob Dietz

It wasn’t real, was it?

Asher Miller

Come on, of course it’s real. It’s the Bible. Everything in the Bible is real.

Rob Dietz

I mean, let me go back to my buddy Joel Osteen and confirm that.

Asher Miller

This is obviously, this is a story from Genesis. It is a really great parable of the hubris of humanity.

Jason Bradford

Well, it is. And I think about from the language thing, we’re all suddenly, everyone’s speaking different tongues, but –

Asher Miller

Yeah, so these were people that descended from Noah after the flood, right? So there were a few people left, and they all spoke the same language. And they decided that they were going to build a tower to reach heaven. And God was like, “Fuck you guys. Like, can’t do that,” and knocked it down. And in the process, they lost their shared language. And that was the kind of the origin story of lots of languages.

Jason Bradford

That’s kind of a stretch, but –

Asher Miller

But again, you think about the stories that are written way back. This idea of like people wanting to push limits.

Jason Bradford

So there’s some guy back in the day. You know, we’re gonna go back 5000 years or so, who basically is kind of like us. And he wrote this thing down and said –

Asher Miller

“Look at these guys”

Jason Bradford

“Look at you. You think you’re so smart? You think you’re so big. God’s gonna go, ‘Wah!'” I feel so connected to my ancestors.

Rob Dietz

The saddest part about it is, you know, there were no elevators. So the system to climb to the top of the Tower of Babel was Rapunzel with her braid hanging out the window and she died when the tower collapsed. Really sad.

Asher Miller

Well, she must have lost a lot of her hair.

Jason Bradford

Ah. Very, very sad. Well, okay. I mean, yeah, right. That maybe it’s hubris, but I also think there’s, as we talked about, we were pretty proud as kids growing up in the in the 80’s that America had the biggest skyscrapers. So there was a status related to this. There’s prestige. There’s sort of a projection of your power.

Asher Miller

Let’s be honest, projection of your manhood in some cases.

Jason Bradford

There we go. Did you know that Trump’s –

Jason Bradford

Speaking of.

Jason Bradford

– that Trump’s hotels are often called the Trump Hotel and Tower?

Rob Dietz

I think it’s also sometimes called the Trump Hotel and Tower of Power.

Asher Miller

Yeah, yeah. I mean, obviously there’s a status thing and probably different developers, you know, wanting to one up one another, right? You have this with cities probably doing that. I’m sure that that was like a big thing, right? It was like, they got the tallest building and now we’re gonna get the tallest building.

Jason Bradford

Now we do it with like sports stadiums, is another way to go about that.

Asher Miller

Right. Well, or we build penises that go into space. And so yeah, sticking up straight in the sky, right? That’s how we’re gonna – yeah, a kilometer, give me a break, buddy. I’m going to Mars, you know?

Jason Bradford

Yeah, but the galactic is virgin so they’re not really thinking about sex.

Rob Dietz

I like that idea of rocket ships as like some kind of natural air to skyscraper. Like how come Trump didn’t do rockets?

Jason Bradford

He was late to the game?

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Well, look, there’s actually another driver of all this that I found really fascinating. And it has to do with positive feedback loops, which I will invite our listeners to check out the episode we did on that last season. There was this positive feedback loop that occurred with building a tall building in the midst of a city and it would kind of go like this: You build your building, and you get a lot of businesses moving in. And they’re kind of making a hub for the economy. And so you get all this economic growth going, and then the rent starts going up, the value of the land starts going up, and it incentivizes the next building to be built. And you’ve got more economic growth. So you kind of get into this positive feedback loop. This spiral that makes you put building after building. And that’s how you ended up in the 1920s in New York with this spasm happening.

Asher Miller

Yeah. And it’s probably part of a larger economic dynamic where you have these centers, right, that become like – Like New York is a center of finance or whatever. They become huge economic powerhouses. And that drives more and more people to want to be there and all the support services that exist. So that requires, not just incredibly tall buildings for all those businesses, but for housing, right? Because you want to cram people into this tight space. So you saw that in New York in the 20’s. And, you know, you have that in places in China today. You know, is it Shenzhen that has something like 87 skyscrapers under construction right now.

Jason Bradford

Oh my god.

Asher Miller

I don’t know if you’ve been to cities recently where you just look at like the skyline, and all you see are these enormous cranes in the sky because they’re doing this. I can’t imagine that number cranes that they have to have to build 87 skyscrapers at once.

Rob Dietz

I know we’re gonna get into this a bit later. But just imagining like what people in that space think the future is going to be? There’s just cranes and skyscrapers and just like –

Jason Bradford

But let’s remember, of course, that none of this could happen without what we’ve called high energy modernity. Where you just take for granted, the skyscraper builders and the architects are taking for granted all the electricity they could want. All the water treatment they could want, right? All of the transportation systems they could want. All of the waste removal systems they could want. All of this is sort of in the background as an assumption that I think has allowed then for people to feel the freedom to just build more and more.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, and the technology follows that. You’re not going to be coming up with these innovations and structural designs if you don’t have the basics, that foundation of all that energy, all that electricity, all those heavy materials, moving equipment available to do the thing that your technology says you can do.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, and cheap fossil fuels, basically, back that all up.

Asher Miller

Are you talking about the basements of the skyscrapers?

Asher Miller

Yeah, it’s interesting to think about because you have the foundation of the energetic basis and the material basis. Like all the materials have to go into it, and energy has to go into it.  And it has to in order for this to be a possibility. And then on the other end of the equation, there’s like the hubris, the desire, the whatever it is are the profit motivations of developers driving them to create technological improvements or whatever, to keep testing these limits and go bigger and bigger. Can we get to what really matters here? For our purposes. Which is like, the downsides. You know, like, what’s wrong with this picture?

Jason Bradford

That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what’s wrong with the picture.

Rob Dietz

I got a little downside story to share with you guys. Okay, I’m going to introduce you to another guy here. A guy named Garry Hoy, okay.

Asher Miller

Was he an architect or something?

Rob Dietz

No, no, Gary was a 38-year-old lawyer. And he worked in the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower.

Jason Bradford

Oh, Canadian.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. And for some reason, Garry was fond of bragging about the strength of his building’s windows to any visitors that came along.

Jason Bradford

Is this because these buildings can be kind of intimidating? You walk up and it’s often floor to ceiling glass.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, he had these huge glass windows and people would come in, and he’d say, “Don’t worry, it’s strong. Watch this.” And he would throw his body into the window and bounce off onto the floor and say, “See look how strong it is!”

Jason Bradford

Yeah, yeah. It’s rated.

Rob Dietz

Well, so one day in 1993, ol’ Garry had some visiting law students in his office on the 24th floor. And he showed them. He ran at the window and he bounced off and he said, “See look how strong it is everybody.” And just for good measure, he did it again.

Jason Bradford

Well, someone double dog dared him.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, and the second time… well, let’s just say if you are a fan of Jim Morrison, or The Doors, you might say he managed to break on through to the other side.

Asher Miller

Are you kidding me?

Rob Dietz

He went right through the window. So have you?… I learned the term defenestration. You guys know this word?

Jason Bradford

You’re gonna tell me

Asher Miller

Does that mean he lost his head?

Rob Dietz

Defenestration is the act of throwing or being thrown through a window.

Jason Bradford

That’s a great term!

Asher Miller

What? Does that happen that often that they needed to come up with a term for it?

Rob Dietz

I don’t know, but it’s a great term. I’m gonna try to work this in on a daily basis.

Jason Bradford

Buddy, if you’re not careful, I’m gonna defenstrate you.

Rob Dietz

Exactly. So ol’ Garry Hoy there, he died of accidental self defenestration.

Asher Miller

Do you think that his family’s lawsuit against the window company — that that worked?

Rob Dietz

I doubt it. In fact, so I read the –

Asher Miller

Well, they are Canadian, they probably didn’t sue. If it was the United States, it would have definitely been a lawsuit.

Rob Dietz

Well, I read the Darwin Award that he –

Asher Miller

Oh, did he win it? Posthumously?

Jason Bradford

Oh, of course. They’re all posthumous.

Asher Miller

Did they get some money? I know they’re all posthumous.

Rob Dietz

I won the Darwin Award.

Asher Miller

I wish he could be here to receive this award. He couldn’t be here tonight.

Jason Bradford

Garry. Sorry, buddy.

Rob Dietz

He “drops in” for his entrance. Ba dum-dum.

Asher Miller

Literally drops in.

Rob Dietz

So I read that some engineer was like, “There is no way any window would ever be certified to have a 160 pound man huck himself at it.”

Asher Miller

Multiple times.

Jason Bradford

Do your research, people.

Rob Dietz

So there’s your downside to having a tall building. You can have accidental self defenestration as a cause of death.

Asher Miller

So downside, stupid people. That’s one downside. Another that’s related to here, obviously is the risk of poor construction, what happens with poor construction. That’s true for all buildings, but when you have these large, large buildings that are poorly constructed with probably a lot more strain on them that it’s truly cataclysmic when there’s something bad that happens and you guys recall the story of that condominium that collapsed in Miami not too long ago. Last year. You know, almost 100 people died in that, and that was a 12 story tall building. Not even the hugest building in the world.  And you have unfortunately, cases of this from around the world where buildings are built with maybe not the highest standards, or, you know, they don’t have the infrastructure put in to have people testing.

Jason Bradford

And in human environments, the rebar starts rusting, that’s in the concrete. And so a lot of these concrete rebar buildings – that’s what they talked about in the Miami case.  But um, I have a question for Rob. This might be a little before your time, but do you remember the classic movie “Towering Inferno?”

Rob Dietz

I mean, I know the title, but I’ve never seen it.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. So you don’t know what year that was? So before your times? You know what year that was?

Rob Dietz

No.

Jason Bradford

Rob Dietz

Wow.

Jason Bradford

So I find that kind of fascinating, because this movie was about this giant brand new giant office building downtown. And it goes on fire, of course. It’s just, it’s horrible.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, well that was probably like heyday of disaster movies, right? Because the only disaster movie I know is the spoof, “Airplane.” But I’m sure that’s based off of, you know, some kind of air disaster movie.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. But there was recently I guess, a few years ago in London, in 2017, the Grenville tower fire was a big deal. And there were these crazy scenes of people being rescued. So it can happen.

Asher Miller

Yeah. There are also terrorist attacks. I mean, there’s obviously a very famous case of it, but there’s a little slightly lesser known one that was documented in this in a documentary, The Nakatomi Tower, the plaza building in Los Angeles. Do you know this documentary?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, that was a really cutting-edge documentary at the time. I remember the German terrorist, Hans Gruber, kidnapped the whole building.

Asher Miller

It was called, “Diehard: The Documentary.”

Jason Bradford

Ha ha. No wonder Rob knows all about it. I went back to ’74, he was clueless. Throw something in the 80’s, my man’s on. That’s a nice save, Asher.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, a full three quarters of my brain is reserved for that, But so, in terrorist attacks, you’re talking about the World Trade Center. And the Twin Towers were actually the tallest buildings for a couple of years, just before the Sears Tower was finished. But we had about 3000 deaths that happened. And I mean, I remember that day so clearly. And I’m sure a lot of people obviously have a terrible experience there. But it’s a real risk. I mean, any kind of disaster, whether it’s accidental or intentional, you’re vulnerable in a building of that size.

Asher Miller

Right? I think the point here is not that, hey, if you have a skyscraper it’s going to be attacked. It’s more talking about this concentration of people and the vulnerability of that if there is an acute crisis that happens. It’s interesting to think about the pandemic, too. You know, I’m thinking about it on a couple of levels. One is, in these dense urban communities, where people are living in high rise buildings, right? Oftentimes, the costs are prohibitive for many people. They live in these tiny, tiny, tiny apartments, and I can’t – I thought about this a lot like, the pandemic, especially the periods of time where we were kind of in lockdown, you know, at home. The sort of privilege and fortune that like, my family had to have our own home with enough space for us to be all stuck home together.

Jason Bradford

Go outdoors if you want.

Asher Miller

You know, thinking about families in places where they’re living in these tiny, you know, few hundred square foot, 500 square foot, 800 square foot homes with little kids or whatever, and they’re stuck there. And in some places they literally aren’t, you’re not allowed to leave. But then there are also things that I think we’ve been learning about, like ventilation, and some of the health risks of being in these.

Jason Bradford

You can’t even open the windows in most of these anymore. It’s just ridiculous.

Rob Dietz

You know, when we would go out hiking on a trail during some of the lockdown times, we were very explicit about expressing gratitude for having the option to do that and thinking about people living in a in a high rise building in New York City or downtown Chicago, or somewhere. And how much harder it would be on on people in that situation.

Jason Bradford

I also kind of think about, you know, we talked about that Miami place that condo or apartment complex that collapsed? Well, think about how many of the cities we mentioned that have these giant structures are at risk for sea level rise?

Asher Miller

Oh, yeah. There’s a complete overlap between these highly densely populated cities in coastal areas, right?

Rob Dietz

I don’t really see that as a downside. That means you’re gonna have a pool in the lobby floor of your building, right?

Jason Bradford

Oh, yeah. I mean, the pool is going to be just everywhere.

Rob Dietz

You could take your Grade B building –

Asher Miller

Yeah, it’s like Venice, right? You just ride it. You have a boat, take to work and okay.

Rob Dietz

And you take your Grade B Building and turn it into an A+. I mean, ordering a coconut beverage down by the poolside when I get down to the bottom floor.

Jason Bradford

Coconuts will probably be growing in New York City by then, so . . .

Rob Dietz

Well, I guess, we seem to be going back and forth between haha-joke and haha-serious. And I guess on a serious front, you think about the vulnerability, you’re on the 127th floor in your condo, and the power goes out for an extended period of time?. You know, like, what? Yeah, what then? And if it’s actually out for a really long time, what happens? And I read the book, “The Upside of Down” by Thomas Homer-Dixon, who’s a really amazing systems thinker and gets all this stuff about energy. And he was talking about how there’s probably going to be a time where people are walking out of the city because you can’t really live if you have a disruption of that sort of electricity. How are you living on that 100 and whatever floor.

Asher Miller

Yeah, I mean, there’s the temporary blackouts. And we’ve had situational data where people were in a distressed situation. But yeah, what you’re talking about is like, what if that was more of the permanent condition?

Jason Bradford

So what are some of the more, I think this is more important, is to think of what are the bigger long term risks?

Asher Miller

Well, I think there’s risks, but there’s also I think, something that’s really important to recognize. And, you know, when we’re talking about some of these energy and environmental risks – We were talking about climate and energy just now, there’s this, and we’ve talked about this before a little bit, but there’s this dominant assumption that exists that cities are greener. They’re more efficient. And so let’s put a bunch of people in these tall buildings and that’s a more efficient way of living where we’re using less energy.

Rob Dietz

If I have to read another article that says, “New York City is the greenest city in America,” I think I might have a conniption fit. I might need some carminative balsam to deal with the –

Asher Miller

Yeah. Well, and this gets to where understanding energy, and understanding and thinking about where we draw the boundaries, right? So if you’re talking about the operational use of energy versus the embodied use of energy, that’s where people get stuck I think a lot of times. And there’s actually a study that was published by Ruth Saint and Francesco Pomponi in Journal Nature where they try to look at the whole lifecycle of carbon emissions of different building types. It’s really fascinating to look at that because as I was just saying, they looked at the operational side of it. You know, what are the carbon emissions that are generated while the building is in use? And obviously, that depends on the sources of electricity and other things that are happening there.

Rob Dietz

How much time each resident is spending in the metaverse.

Asher Miller

And then there’s the embodied carbon, which is like all of the emissions that go into the extraction, the production, transport, manufacturing of all the raw materials, and the process of building the building and all that stuff, right.

Jason Bradford

And that’s the thing is a lot of this embodied energy use is often not calculated. And it’s not used, for example, for a lot of these green building certifications, or energy efficiency laws. So the idea being that you could build something that is incredibly elaborate, gigantic, thick walls, all this material goes into it, and you get this incredible energy certificate levels of efficiency. But how much went into that? And so I think that’s something that needs to be taken into account is all the energy and emissions produced during maintenance, refurbishment demolition, in addition to then the building of this. There’s a lifecycle, the lifecycle approach right now has what’s called a too narrow boundary of analysis.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, it’s amazing to think about the demolition. Like, if you had a 10 story building, you have to demolish it, that’s painful. And there’s a lot of stuff to deal with and move, but you’ve got to demolish a 100, and whatever story building.

Asher Miller

A kilometer tall building.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.

Asher Miller

You’ve got to stand pretty far back. Yeah, I’ve actually been in buildings that really, and I’m not trying to poopoo them. . . But like, you know, they worked on LEED certification, and they did all this work to try to green their operations as much as possible. And they have these like dashboards that you can see in the lobby, right? Showing how much water is being consumed and how much electricity, how efficient they are. And they might have solar panels on the roof or whatever. And a lot of that is, like, really cool to see. But nowhere in there is the embodied energy. They don’t –

Rob Dietz

We destroyed a continent building this building!

Asher Miller

Right. They don’t talk about the sunk carbon and how long it’s gonna take to, quote unquote, pay that off or whatever. However you try to think of it.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, concrete is one of the most carbon intensive things.

Asher Miller

Yeah. So Saint and Pomponi concluded in this report that they did that it’s actually densely built low rise environments that are more space and carbon efficient. High rise buildings have a much higher carbon impact. So they’re not saying, you know, don’t live in cities, which I think we could have a more maybe nuanced conversation about, but they’re saying, okay, high density, but it should be low rise. And they point to cities like Paris that are more environmentally friendly than a city like New York. And I think that it’s often contrary to what people think. And I just want to mention as another kind of thing that you just touched on, really briefly, this this idea of demolition. And that is, we talked about the lifecycle of the emissions, but what is the lifespan of these buildings as well? A really important thing I think to think about, and if the lifespan is limited, are you locked in? What are your options?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, yeah. And what’s a retrofit on the Empire State Building versus a 10 story building?

Jason Bradford

Yeah, the Empire State Building is going through some kind of retrofits right now to try to make it greener, by the way.

Rob Dietz

Well, this kind of leads me back to what I was talking about with Thomas Homer Dixon. Like the blackout thing. I mean, you don’t have to just key in on electricity going down. You can sort of look at what happens when we can’t support the level of complexity that’s needed to maintain one of these buildings. You know, an example would be these high speed elevators, right? They need special parts. Well, maybe that part is no longer available. So now what? You gotta get a really good pogo stick to get to your apartment?

Asher Miller

And they may also be dealing with this already with supply chain issues.

Jason Bradford

Right? It’s not like you’re gonna hear that in the news right now unless there’s a catastrophe.

Asher Miller

Yeah, but like something that breaks down. . .

Rob Dietz

Hey, you said that that tower in Jeddah has not been completed. We’ve got a conspiracy theory we can we can start starting on now.

Jason Bradford

Well, this gets to this concept of what’s called urban metabolism. And it’s the idea that cities are akin to organisms in the sense where you’ve got just to think about an organism. We ingest food, we’ll have waste. We ingest water, we’ll have waste. We have circulatory systems. We have nervous systems. All those things are analogous in cities. But instead, it’s electric wires. it’s piping, right?

Rob Dietz

Roads and transportation.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, Trains and trucks and automobiles and airplanes and boats. And so basically, when you look at it from this – You know, you step back and say, what’s an urban metabolism look like? I think there’s a fundamental structural problem that makes these highly complex, highly industrialized urban landscapes essentially impossible to maintain during what you just talked about – the great simplification. And an analogy I think about is in biology is endotherms versus ectotherms. So an endotherm is like us. We’re warm blooded, right. We have this constant body temperature. So structurally, we have this baseline demand, which is for humans about 100 Watts. Where we’re burning 100 watts at a minimum all the time. Now, you find a giant lizard that’s about my size, like a Komodo dragon or whatever. And that thing is at a 10th. It has like a 10 Watt baseline metabolism. They can just chill out. If you’re in a city, you can never chill out. There’s always somebody flicking on lights, putting on an HVAC, right? Flushing a toilet. There’s no chilling out. You’ve structurally demanded high input systems.

Rob Dietz

So let me just summarize your analogy, or your theory here. So a city is a shitty human who is wasteful and obnoxious. And somewhere out in the countryside is a wonderful, awesome Komodo dragon that lives a virtuous life.

Jason Bradford

I could say that. Well, the other way to think about it is –

Rob Dietz

We should call up the Journal Nature and get this one published.

Jason Bradford

Well, if you think about it, a term that Bill Rees said, he called cities basically structurally analogous to feedlots, but for people. You have to truck all the food and water in. You have to truck all the waste out. Whereas, if you have a cow or cattle on a pasture, they’re basically getting what they need from their environment. And their waste is being processed from the environment.

Asher Miller

And in our case, our product is us being on social media, and they could sell our information about us and that’s how they profit. Versus us creating milk or meat or something.

Jason Bradford

Right. So you know, when I see things like these vertical farm ideas that you see once in a while, like we have to grow food in cities. To me, that’s a symptom of this recognition by people living in urban environments that we’re missing some key basic needs here. But the response is sort of telling because it’s coming from this urban culture, this high energy modernity kind of culture. And they can’t imagine not just living in a city and making it work somehow.

Rob Dietz

Well, I guess that’s time then to change the title of this from Crazy Town to “Welcome to the Human Feedlot.”

Asher Miller

I don’t think a lot of people would want to listen to that.

Jason Bradford

Let’s try it.

Rob Dietz

Hey you guys, remember last season, we had author and media theorist Douglas Rushkoff on the program?

Jason Bradford

Yeah, he has the podcast “Team Human” and I love it. It was incredible. It was three hosts to one guest and he handled himself beautifully.

Rob Dietz

He still out shined us by incredible wattage

Jason Bradford

Of course. The guest is supposed to.

Asher Miller

Yeah, I think the podcast is great too and I would recommend it to our listeners. I mean, the truth is, you know if I had to vote humans are probably not the top of my list and –

Jason Bradford

He makes you root for our team a little bit. He does a good job.

Asher Miller

It’s true. Douglas, you make me want to be on team human.

Rob Dietz

You can be on Team Non-Human, Asher.

George  Costanza

Every decision I’ve ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be.

Jerry Seinfeld

If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

Rob Dietz

Okay, in the Do-the-Opposite section here, I want to start us off with a little quote. You already took us back to the Bible, Asher, a little earlier. And I’m going to take us now to the Tao Te Ching. So another, I don’t know, you can’t call it a biblical text, but I guess a religious text. And so this comes from the Stephen Mitchell translation 1991. And there’s a passage in there that says,

“In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.”

Jason Bradford

That’s all pretty good.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Well, I remember reading that. And I thought, when I was young, all of those things seemed right to me, except the first one: “In dwelling lived close to the ground.” At the time, I was living in a high rise, and I liked the view. And it’s taken me a lot more time and introspection to really get it. It is something that’s changed for me, living close to the ground. And it’s like being much closer to nature. And I think it’s way more in alignment with how we evolved and what our psychology is supposed to be. So the action here, for me anyway, was that you’ve got to change your mindset about kind of what you find inspiring, you know. It’s kind of easy to say, “Oh, that giant glass and steel building is inspiring, and the view is cool.” But I think there’s a lot more nuance to be had in finding the ecology of where you live.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, you can’t see the blades of grass from up there.

Rob Dietz

Right.

Asher Miller

And if we want to be inspired by tall things, let’s keep tall trees and  mountains. And, yeah, along those lines, you know, we have talked earlier about the studies that were done that showed that low rise environments, densely populated, densely built low rise environments were more efficient. And so, I think, another maybe do the opposite might be thinking about where we’re choosing to live. What kind of community we’re putting ourselves in. Obviously, there’s a lot of questions for people now around economic opportunity. And there’s something really wonderful about living in a cosmopolitan city with all the cultural benefits and diversity and all that stuff. But, you know, if you really do take seriously the issues that we raise on this podcast, and others are raising, it makes a big difference where you’re living in terms of your vulnerability and risk. So choose wisely.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I mean, I always say, God, the future is rural. That’s the title of some of the publications that I’ve done. And so, move out of big cities, for gosh sakes, is what I often try to say. Then people think I’m kind of nutty for that, but

Rob Dietz

Yeah, well, and if you are going to live in a densely populated place, maybe you do need some bigger buildings. There’s some interesting architectural advancement happening right now where buildings can be made of a materials that use less embodied energy. So there’s an 18 story building near Oslo, Norway, that just opened up in 2019 that’s made of engineered wood products, that had a really strong strength to weight ratio. And they’re less flammable than, say, like an old school wooden structure. So you know, there’s some further tech advancement that’s about, “Hey, how do we have less embodied energy?” Not about, “Hey, how tall can we build this building?”

Asher Miller

And here’s the last suggestion. Let’s try to get people to adopt new building codes in cities. And that code should be that if, well, how old were you in college and you did that a run up the stairway?

Rob Dietz

19 years old.

Asher Miller

Okay. So you take a fit 20 year old and you say the limit is how far they can run upstairs without completely being out of breath and like near vomiting, right? That’s as tall as you can go.

Rob Dietz

I don’t know. With CrossFit now, you’re gonna have people running like 32 miles into the sky.

Asher Miller

Then, how far can a 97 year old woman walk up the stairs? We should make that.

Rob Dietz

Well, it’s certainly not going to be a 97 year old man because they don’t exist. We all died. So, one last thing from me, too. You just said, Jason, the future is rural. I love your report, too. But also the future is on earth. Can we just stop with the space penis launching billionaires burning fossil fuels – At least until they figure out how to launch a rocket without burning anything?

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I’ll get right on it after this show. I’ll email those guys and just say, Can you just cut this out?” And see what happens.

Rob Dietz

So I know that there’s no way for our average person on the street to affect this except by being willing to enter into conversations. Because you know, there’s gonna be people that are… they think this is inspiring. It’s all over the news like, haha, Elon Musk launches another rocket. And this is where you can say, “Well, I’m not sure that’s a great idea. And here’s why.”

Asher Miller

Yeah, or you could just ridicule the hell out of them like we do. It’s a lot more fun.

Rob Dietz

Right. That’s always the most effective way.

Asher Miller

Yeah, absolutely.

Melody Travers

Thanks for listening. We just gave you a whole bunch of do the opposite ideas so you can take action in your life and community. If that’s too much at this time in your life, do something real simple, give us a five star rating on Spotify or any other podcast app and hit the share button to let your friends know about  Crazy Town.

Jason Bradford

Hey guys, so when I was marketing this show, I got some amazing feedback by this company. Because we really live in a time of safety culture. We have seatbelts and all kinds of stuff.

Jason Bradford

Safety pins. Safety dance.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, you can’t even open your like medicine jars anymore. Right? But anyhow, this is an amazing response to a lot of issues we brought up in the show about the dangers of these high rises, these skyscrapers. This company is called Towerfall. And yeah, it’s a serious business because what they do is they basically attach this add on to the side of your building. And if there’s a disaster, this giant airbag inflates out across the sidewalk and just makes this big little kind of puffy thing that you just go up to the roof, and you just hurl yourself off

Asher Miller

So you’re 89 stories up, and you’re just toss yourself off?

Jason Bradford

It doesn’t matter. As far as you want to be. You could you could be a mile high. They don’t care. This thing, this will handle you.

Asher Miller

Really? So how how bad do you think the bounce is?

Jason Bradford

Well, okay. The thing is every year you know, the building super is supposed to like say, “We’re having a test.”

Jason Bradford

Oh, really?

Asher Miller

Yeah, you want to make sure it really works. So he goes out . . . and so you’re gonna start seeing a lot of these as they get installed. You’ll see a lot of –

Asher Miller

That’s when you start seeing vacancies in the building? Right after that?

Rob Dietz

So you know, I can go along with this idea. Like it would have saved Garry Hoy. It would have deployed and he would have just had a good story. But could you talk to this company about their name, Towerfall? That might not be…

Jason Bradford

It’s trademarked. So shut up and lobby for Towerfall wherever high rise building you live in.