Saturday, July 10, 2010

Busboys and Poets

I previously posted on a story about Busboys and Poets, a coffee house and café in Washington, D.C. that had was, I had read, a genuinely racially and ethnically mixed third place.

I am writing from there now, and can testify that it is as lively as I had read. Visually, it is clearly very mixed. I can't tell how much of a third place it is - I can't tell the regulars from the visitors. It is, though, very cosmopolitan. The spirit of Langston Hughes presides. Indeed, the shop takes its name from a title given to Hughes by Vachel Lindsay.

The Gruntleds are using it as a base for visiting with our DC friends all afternoon. This should be good.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Who Likes McMansions?

Whole subdivisions of McMansions - starter castles, Hummer houses, garage Mahals - have been built over the last generation.

One of the side effects of my research on the "knowledge class" is that they seem allergic to this kind of house. Indeed, it is undoubtedly knowledge class types who invented the the term McMansion, and mostly use it pejoratively.

Yet clearly, they must be popular with a significant section of the upper middle class, or they wouldn't have been built or bought in large enough numbers to need such a pop sociology name.

So I ask readers, from your experience, what are the social characteristics of people who prefer and enjoy living in neighborhoods of houses with "a floor area over 3,000 square feet (280 m2), ceilings 9-10 feet high, a two-story portico, a front door hall with a chandelier hanging from 16-20 feet, two or more garages, several bedrooms and bathrooms, and lavish interiors." I would particularly value first-hand accounts from such happy homeowners; if you know such, please pass this query on.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Marriage is the Best Fatherhood Initiative

The Obama administration has given high profile to programs to promote active fatherhood. I applaud these efforts.

Marriage proponents, like me, are distressed, though, that the administration has taken a step back from parallel programs to support marriage that had a high profile in the Bush administration.

Active fatherhood is good for kids, fathers, and mothers. Active married fatherhood is even better for kids, fathers, and, especially, mothers.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Grown-Up Party of the Center

Michael Gerson has an op-ed in the Washington Post contrasting the Ugly Party - from both ends of the political spectrum - with the Grown-Up Party. He does not place the Grown-Up Party, but from his examples it seems to me to be clearly in the center.

In his criticism of the Ugly Party way of talking he has a lovely quote from John Avlon:

If you only take offense when the president of your party is compared to Hitler, you are part of the problem.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Freedom Isn't Free - So Pay Your Taxes

On the Fourth of July the Gruntleds celebrate Independence Day along with other patriotic Americans. We will hear often today that "freedom isn't free." What most people who I hear use this phrase mean is that we have to be willing to go to war to defend our freedom, and sometimes other people's freedom. This is true.

I was surprised when some of these same people mocked Vice-President Biden for saying that paying taxes is patriotic.

Freedom Isn't Free in the most obvious financial sense, too. We honor our military for defending us. Most of what we pay federal taxes for is to pay for our military expenses. Taxes pay for our freedom in the most direct way. And the thousand and one other things that we expect the government to do also cost money. Of course some tax money is badly spent. But nearly all of it is spent on what we the people elected our representatives to spend it on - serving the common good. Many government programs do not benefit me directly, but they benefit some citizens. Paying for programs that benefit other people is what good citizenship requires.

Freedom isn't free. Paying taxes is patriotic.