Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Rainbow Party and the White Man's Party

Our politics is becoming increasingly partisan. 

The two parties are evolving into the Rainbow Party and the White Man's Party.

All the rainbow demographic groups are growing.

All the white man demographic groups are shrinking.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Difference Between Sex and Marriage is Like the Difference Between Swimming and Baptism.

Swimming is a behavior that we can describe neutrally.

Baptism is an action that is meaningful because of its context in a social institution.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Suppressing Yard Signs is a Class Privilege

In most suburban neighborhoods, political yard signs are prohibited by the Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions that the Homeowners Association enforces.

This rule is meant to promote civility and prevent conflict.

It is a sign of class privilege.  It assumes that, no matter who wins the election, the suburbanites will be protected.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

A Demographic Reason Why People In Their Sixties are Happier

People in their 60s tend to be happier and more confident than younger people.

This article has quite a few reasons why.

A less obvious reason: the really unhappy people have started to die off before their 60s.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Emergence of Family Systems

I have taught the Beavers model of family systems in my family life class for many years.

Recently I have been immersed in "critical realist" social theory.  One of the most attractive features of critical realism is the idea that real things - things with the power to cause other effects - are not simply real or not-real, but can emerge into reality.

I see a way to combine the two.

The Beavers sequence of family systems is, from least functional to most functional, Chaos, Tyranny, Rule-Bound, Adequate, and Optimal.

As these systems affect the emergence of a family into fully functional reality, the sequence could be:

Chaos - prevents the emergence of a higher-order functioning system.
Tyranny - achieves minimal order, but can only be defensive; it is a necessary precondition for emergence, but is not sufficient.
Rule-Bound - is a minimally emergent reality.  The system exists independent of its elements (the individual family members).
Adequate - is an emergent reality with creativity
Optimal - is an emergent reality with creativity and resilience.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Why General American English Was Codified in Cleveland in the '20s

"Talk American" is an episode of the podcast Code Switch.  In it they note the role of Hiram College professor John S. Kenyon of creating the name, and argument, that the "General American" accent was the accent of Cleveland in that era.

This sparked an idea that I have no way to prove.  Cleveland is an odd part of the Midwest.  It was originally claimed by Massachusetts as its "western reserve" (preserved in the name of Case Western Reserve University), and was long thought to have a more New England feel than Columbus or Cincinnati, Ohio's other big cities.

It makes sense to me that in the 1920s, Boston was long past the time when the evolved accent of the Puritans still dominated ordinary speech.  The mass Irish migrations of the 1840s, in particular, would likely have dramatically changed the speech of "old" New England. 

Cleveland on the other hand, might still have had a Puritan-derived speech among its dominant class, even as the wave of Eastern Europeans was arriving at the bottom of the class structure. 

The claim for the General American accent today is that it is the standard broadcasting language, used by news readers to bring the "news from nowhere" without an identifiable accented location.

Puritan culture has always had a claim to set the standard for American high culture.  It makes sense to me that its linguistic descendant is still the closest thing we have to a standard way of speaking.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Where the Front Door is Still the Way In

Architect Anthony Alfonsin reveals this interesting development in "An Architect Defends the Suburbs.":

Canvasing of consumers indicated that a living room adjacent to the front door, a holdover of the Victorian parlor, was far less important than having more space in a great room. Without reconfiguring the outline of the building—changing slab designs is costly—the front parlor was transformed into a smaller office or guest bedroom. This design makes sense, as the front door is typically not used for entry these days, but as a marker of domesticity. 

I have been studying what I call "boburbs" - the dense, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods favored by the bourgeois bohemians - the bobos.  These houses tend to come from an era in which the front porch was a real room, in talking distance of the sidewalk.  The residents walk up to the front door from the sidewalk for a variety of reasons, not just as the path to the car.

I agree with Alfonsin that in many car suburbs, the garage or the side door nearest the driveway is the normal point of entry. But in the boburbs, front doors are still real main entry points.