Re: Amen

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Shorter Becks: Get off my lawn !!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 8:50 AM
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Becks' reaction suggests that she doesn't love Steve Jobs enough.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 8:54 AM
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Clearly, this article is just a cover for Boomer-hatred. I have contributed all the thoughts I have on that issue.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:05 AM
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Kevin is part of the generation born between 1982 and 2002--a Millennial, formerly known as Generation Y.

It's on, Becks.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:06 AM
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Pretty shit article, though.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:08 AM
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If this is the opening salvo in a war, I'm not sure whether Gen X sucks or rules with that response.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:24 AM
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[T]he generation born between the years of 1961 and 1981. Generation X.

So Senator Obama is not a boomer after all?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:25 AM
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7: One of my main reasons for supporting him. End the boomerocracy!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:27 AM
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The whole idea of generational politics is just a bit of baby boomer self absorption. They're the only generation that is actually marked by a real demographic phenomenon. Bastards.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:27 AM
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Of course, McCain isn't a boomer either...


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:27 AM
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The goal is to define the boomers out of existence, or at least the presidency.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:32 AM
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So in the war between Gen Xers and Millennials, what would be the battle lines? Microsoft versus Facebook with Google torn in half?

In this neighborhood, my roomies and I are a Millennial sleeper cell.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:32 AM
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Lord knows that thirty can be hard, Becks, but let's not roll over on Generation Awesome just yet. I believe the children are the fu-uture, teach them well....


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:33 AM
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10: Clinton is. Maybe that's why the primaries have gone on so long.

And rob's absolutely right. When I was in high school and all the stuff about Gen X was gong on, they were defining the last year of Gen X as 1975. Now it's 1981.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:36 AM
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13: I think the bitterness of the article is about the tendency we have to say "Well, the times they are a-changin'!" in the name of Millenials while we Xers were just accused of ruining everything with our loud music and ugly thrift-store clothes.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:38 AM
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9: I think the Gen Y whatever is also somewhat defined demographically. As the article said, there are about 80 million of us, with I believe the peak being born around 86-88.

15: I wish the response article had just laid out the incredibly obvious reasons why this would be the case: baby boomers retiring instead of being in 30s-40s and thus competing with some Gen Xers for jobs, sheer size of Millennial generation making us a vital set of workers to fill the ranks, the internet boom and IT revolution that especially helped Gen X's image and helped them soften the ground for us, etc. Would've made a welcome contrast with whining about one article from 1990.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:45 AM
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To some degree, I think Generation Awesome gets a pass because they're complicit in the ongoing boomer corporate economy. Generation X was accused of being shiftless and lazy, but really, it was an attack on our generational anxiety about the House that Boomer Built.

The first time I realized there was such a split was the first time I taught my own class of freshmen in 2002 and tried to discuss the rhetoric of advertisement with them. To a one, they were like, "Oh, yeah, those Gap pants are really great. That's a good ad for those pants. Very effective." I kept saying, "Don't you feel a little sold out? The pop music? The celebrities? The slick visuals? They're selling your culture back to you so you'll buy their pants." They were like, "Sure, commodify my culture all you want." They also had NO IDEA why I would buy used clothes. "Gross. Someone else wore those? Are you poor?"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:48 AM
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All that generational definition stuff is just shuck.

What do I have in common with someone born in '61? They were already alive when JFK was shot for chrissakes. And they probably remember RFK's assassination quite well. That might not put them quite in Baby Boomer territory, but it's pretty darn close.

If you ask me, the real Gen X demographic is people who were born between 1964 and 1979. 1959-1963 and 1980-1983 are little generational interregnums. If you look at who founded punk, and really embodied the slacker aesthetic, it wasn't Gen Xers, it was the post-baby boom interstitial generation. And I wouldn't be surprised if we can identify a similar blossoming of mediagenesis among that post-Xer tranche in a few years.

"It's like the 'Every-other Decade Theory, right? I mean, the '50s were boring, the '60s rocked, the '70s, obviously suck, so maybe the '80s will be, like, radical!"


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:49 AM
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Is there some reason to care? I feel neither highs nor lows.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:54 AM
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I don't care what anyone else says. The true name for people born after '81 is "Generation Fox Kids". That was both earlier and fits much better.


Posted by: Matt (not the famous one) | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:58 AM
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20: Could be true, but you'd have to throw old Nickelodeon in there too. The Tick, Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, and Daria were heavy influences on our early childhoods, which explains a lot really.

And I wouldn't be surprised if we can identify a similar blossoming of mediagenesis among that post-Xer tranche in a few years.

Trying to identify such a blossoming is going to bug me for a while. All I can think of at the moment is the post-punk/art-rock revival of the early 2000s, which also included some very serious sample-based poppish music.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:05 AM
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17: When I was in Texas students reacted *very* negatively when I told them I got my jacket and tie at a thrift store. It was as if I had simultaneously admitted being on welfare and not brushing my teeth.

I figured it was a north/south thing, and not a generational thing.

Now that I live in the rust belt and teach at a community college, I find my students dress far more the way I dressed when I was their age. Torn jeans, cheap clothes, loud music. More Slayer than Nirvana, but still a surprising amount of grunge


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:08 AM
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Many of the generational double standards involve our shared reluctance to conform to the rules of a traditional nine-to-five job.

Regardless of anything else in the article, this sentence describes a great deal of my career experience. When I suggested 4x10's as a replacement for the M-F workweek, I was told I was trying to "cheat" companies out of a day every week. When someone who was 50 or someone who was 20 suggested them, they were hailed as innovative.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:09 AM
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They also had NO IDEA why I would buy used clothes.

But that's what the cultural celebrities in your strongly-connected graph of elective affinities does—surely they can understand that!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:09 AM
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I haven't read the article, but it seems like there's a conflation of actual generations as measured by academics, and the niche groups defined by a common set of pop culture touchstones and attitudes toward the media. 1961 for Generation X? No way someone who's 47 today is part of the same Generation X that I'm a part of. Those niches are much narrower.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:10 AM
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When I suggested 4x10's as a replacement for the M-F workweek, I was told I was trying to "cheat" companies out of a day every week.

Did the people who told you this know how to multiply?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:10 AM
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Did the people who told you this know how to multiply?

One would hope.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:18 AM
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Is the 80 million to 30 million statistic for real? That sounds way off; I know the birth rate declined in the 1970s and rose again but I don't think it was all that dramatically.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:22 AM
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(The author may be looking at total U.S. population increase during those years, but that's incredibly sloppy--an adult who immigrated during the 1980s or 1990s is not so much a part of Generation Awesome.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:25 AM
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Those niches are much narrower.

Not just in age, either. I suspect it varies by field, education, life stage, general pop culture dopiness, etc. I wouldn't be that surprised if Emerson understood more of the pop culture references from GA than I did.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:28 AM
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30: So why do you like GA again? Is it just the high school anal sex?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:37 AM
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Is the 80 million to 30 million statistic for real?

I cannot imagine that it is. It doesn't even have any context in the article, so I think your 29 gives the author way too much credit.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:38 AM
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So why do you like GA again? Is it just the high school anal sex?

High school anal sex is not nothing, but it's mostly because, perhaps as a result of having grown up in relative peace, prosperity, and general quietude, they just seem to be a pretty healthy generation as measured along of various previously defined societal fault lines. It's just kind of neat.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:54 AM
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So what does 1980 count as? And anyone who accuses me of being one of "Thatcher's Children" is going to die.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 11:01 AM
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Obviously there are differences within cohorts, and individual cases to have no relationship to any of it. I have you people to thank for getting me over the starting position that those born 61-81 aren't worthy of attention.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 11:17 AM
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7: So Senator Obama is not a boomer after all?

Well, "demographically" he is a Late Boomer (it really was about '63 or '64 when that ended). So in fact it really is all just another boomer trick. Mcmanus is part of a sophisticated rat-fucking operation to cement the idea that Obama is not a boomer in influential parts of the 'net ... and at Unfogged as well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 11:22 AM
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The original Generation X -- not the Billy Idol band, the British teenagers studied in the monograph -- were working-class Mods who were very early Boomers; if they had been from Detroit instead of London, they could have been called "Generation MC5" and we could have snuffed out Douglas Coupland's career before he inflected any harm on us.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 11:45 AM
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26: So naive, ben. 5x8 is a baseline; you're expected to work as many hours as it takes to get the job done. Company would be stupid not to give you 50 hours of work a week under that policy. Hence you really work 5x10, hence proposing 4x10 is trying to cheat the company out of a day a week.

Electronic Arts, a couple years back, got a huge amount of negative publicity about overworking their peeps (google "EA spouse") and a class action lawsuit. They totally mended their ways to keep people from working uncompensated overtime! Really!

Here's how it went down. No change for people not in entry level positions. Entry level positions got changed from salaried to hourly -- with their hourly wage computed from a 45-hour workweek! So if they were working a straight 40, the new policy amounted to an 11% pay cut. Oh, and these positions were no longer in the bonus pool. And if the managers screw up a project by making insane technopolitical decisions, it's still those rank and file workers who have to come in 6 or 7 days a week for months at a stretch to get the game out the door; it's just now they get some overtime pay.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 11:59 AM
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I remember the ea spouse thing from when it made slashdot—I can't say I'm too terribly surprised that nothing much worthwhile came of it in the end.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:03 PM
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Obama is not a boomer;the Clintons are barely boomers. The 60s as cultural/political event was achieved and experienced mostly by the generation born 1936-46...check out Slick, Abbie Hoffman, Jagger, Pynchon Peter Coyote any names you want. The boomers watched it on tv.

Yes there were potsmokers at Harvard and Berkeley in 1968...but very few at Northwestern or UT. The boomers became counter-cultural after all the political meaning and impact of a counterculture had disappeared...the 70s. At that point it was no longer a counterculture at all, but a mass-marketed fashion movement. High Times and Rolling Stone subscribed at discount in Readers Digest.

So Obama and his followers are somewhat justified in their nostalgia/contempt for the counterculture. Revolutions are existential, and can't be understood from outside.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:18 PM
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38: The game development job market is notoriously wack, though. For I guess much the same reason that the academic job market is - lots of candidates even willing to put up with crappy treatment for a chance at a prestigious job.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:20 PM
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40:I would have to develop that idea, but I mean it. It is not only unfair to judge Robespierre or Lenin or Castro or Mao's Long March or CR ...I mean their actions during the events, not after...but it is impossible. Revolutions are not calculated consequence-justified projects. Which is a reason to prevent them in principle, if you have a morality.

Only another revolutionary in the midst or revolution can even see Chicago/Paris 1968 or the Detroit riots.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:27 PM
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The 60s as cultural/political event was achieved and experienced mostly by the generation born 1936-46

Which is to say, in the decade preceding the post-WWII baby boom. Interpret generational identity however you want, but the boomer label applies by definition to people born in that boom.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:27 PM
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Only another revolutionary in the midst or revolution can even see Chicago/Paris 1968 or the Detroit riots.

What?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:29 PM
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To understand 20th Century America, I think you have to get the generation 1936-46 and what they grew up with. They were motivated to revolution. I think they are the greatest generation; the WWII demo preformed well, but didn't really have a lot of choices.

Steinem and most of the Civil Rights heroes.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:33 PM
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As a public service, here is some data. Top panel, live births. Bottom panel, birth rate.

Gen-X were originally just the 66-75 spike in births, I think.

The 30m to 80m number isn't right. There were about 75 million births between 1961 and 1981, and about 82 million births between 1982 and 2002.


Posted by: Kieran | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:36 PM
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44:To someone with something to lose, anything at all, revolution looks chaotic, destructive, wicked. No, we can't see it. The Diggers looked like nonsense to Coyote in a couple years after he left them.

To people with absolutely nothing to lose but their lives revolution looks like hope.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:39 PM
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18: If you ask me, the real Gen X demographic is people who were born between 1964 and 1979. 1959-1963 and 1980-1983 are little generational interregnums.

I'll buy this (generational interregnums notion) ... although it still puts me, born in '64, down as a Gen Xer. The line's fuzzy: I can identify with, get along with, both boomers and Gen Xers, though the latter's a little harder.

Huh. Weird article. 'lotta resentment, eh?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:41 PM
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I always thought this Generation Awesome stuff was more about mainstream media wanting to say that now, finally, the kids actually love the world of work and advertising....that it was more about legitimating declining social conditions than anything measurable. But I do know one Gen Y person who refers to herself as a "Millenial" all the time, which really seems weird to me, so there's at least one Gen Y person who is all comfortable with marketing analysis. Strangely, she's relatively left-wing.

On that note, the younger folks I meet are pretty much all activists, and I don't actually see too many differences between them and activists when I was their age--they're energized by an official war and an actual Republican president rather than hamstrung by having a [NAFTA-signing, OSHA-weakening] Democrat in office, they take meeting notes on laptops [but then, so does everyone now] and they're a lot more, er, heteroflexible than most people were when I was that age, but they're really not that different. I find it very difficult to buy into all this Gen-this/Gen-that stuff.

On the other hand, I've been reading Young Torless, and however you characterize Robert Musil's generation, I have no trouble believing that they were a bit different from those before and after. So as long as all this talk of generations is dignified by being well in the past, I suppose I buy into it.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:42 PM
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To people with absolutely nothing to lose but their lives revolution looks like hope.

Isn't that from an Eddie and the Cruisers song?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:45 PM
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And rob's absolutely right. When I was in high school and all the stuff about Gen X was gong on, they were defining the last year of Gen X as 1975. Now it's 1981.

I don't think I like suddenly discovering that I'm a Gen X'er.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:47 PM
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I don't think I like suddenly discovering that I'm a Gen X'er.

I hate this uncertainty. Demographers, tell me who I am!


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:49 PM
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51: Becks is clearly on the cusp between X-er and GA. I wouldn't want to swear to it, but I think you're safe, w/d.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:49 PM
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I hate this uncertainty. Demographers, tell me who I am!

See 46.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:52 PM
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Some Sketchy Notes

Newberry tells your future. The social revolution is the necessary pre-requisite for the technological revolution.

The Millenials are part of the future. Don't expect boomers to like them. I figure 5 more years of this hell and they will go postal. Turn the internets into the destructive weapon it could be, for instance. Burn it all down.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:56 PM
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Burn it all down.

I think you'll find it's "BURN SHIT DOWN."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 12:57 PM
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51: Culturally, I think Gen X is people about five to ten years older than me.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:01 PM
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You're doing well Bob, keep up the good work.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:01 PM
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Kieran's data confirms that this article is yet another one in the line of Sloppy Quasi-Sociological Observations Masquerading as Cute Social Commentary.

I dunno; my life experiences and pop-culture knowledge are variable enough that none of these generational groupings rings particularly true to me. In some ways my brother (in college when Facebook came out) and sister (in college when IMing got big) are different generations. In other ways anyone who can remember pre-GWB is a generation.

It's useful in specific contexts, but not so much in the sweeping generalizations.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:02 PM
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Also, holy kamoly look at that plummeting birth rate in the second panel. Somehow I thought immigration (all those young families having 3.1 children or whatever) was helping to make up for all the native-born having 2.1. Or whatever. Nobody quote me on the numbers; I'm making them up and was apparently wrong anyway.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:06 PM
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It's useful in specific contexts, but not so much in the sweeping generalizations.

A statement that is true for a remarkable number of potential referents for "it".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:07 PM
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That hardly suffices. I need some pithy labels, applied with firmness and credibility. Like you get from market research.

More than that, when does the little spike corresponding to the Milleners, or whatever, actually begin. I'd be tempted to say the Gen X boundary is more like 1975.

Here's more of those graphs from 46.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:15 PM
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re: 34

If you were born in 1980, you barely remember Thatcher.* Those of us who were teenagers in the 80s had the full Thatcher effect. I left school in time to i) end up on a compulsory YTS earning 27 pounds a week and ii) paying 1/3 of my annual income in Poll Tax fines.

* does 'Political figure X's children' refer to those born in his/her reign, or those who 'came of age' under his/her reign?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:18 PM
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I need some pithy labels, applied with firmness...ATM.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:18 PM
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another one in the line of Sloppy Quasi-Sociological Observations Masquerading as Cute Social Commentary

I'm just a little puzzled over what's at stake in fostering this sort of intergenerational antagonism. Why keep it live, why stoke it? It's a little annoying to hear (per the article) that Gen Xers resent the boomers now doubly! For seemingly approving of the Millenials! Okay. Can we move on?

This at 49 is more interesting:

I always thought this Generation Awesome stuff was more about mainstream media wanting to say that now, finally, the kids actually love the world of work and advertising


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:22 PM
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63: With some 'Political figures X' it could just be the kids they sprinkled among the fortunate.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:22 PM
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But I do know one Gen Y person who refers to herself as a "Millenial" all the time,

Forget weird, that sounds fucking insufferable.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:24 PM
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Why keep it live, why stoke it? It's a little annoying to hear (per the article) that Gen Xers resent the boomers now doubly! For seemingly approving of the Millenials! Okay. Can we move on?

This is the older siblings resenting their younger siblings and parents. The younglings for being doted-upon, the oldlings for "not understanding me, man."


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:24 PM
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Just please read the Newberry.

Peak Oil (Right Now) will lead to coal, wood, biofuels (right soon) and bad GW and horrors. If we had fusion at our fingertips the social/economic/political impediments would keep it a generation away.

So billions of poor people will die. Or millions of rich people. This is the choice we are making every day. We cannot not choose.

My eyesight is bad, so I can only feed the MG belt on the barricades. Up to the kids to aim the thing.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:27 PM
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67: It's peculiar. She takes all that very seriously and is always talking about her generation versus mine and how "we", meaning me, tend to do and think this or that. She's not uncritical or some kind of cheerleader for Generation Awesome, but she does accept the conventional analysis absolutely. It's an odd sort of pragmatism, I think--she spends time in more different milieux than many people do, and I get the impression that the prepackaged analysis helps her to manage some of the contradictions.

I see the contradictions as more the result of class and relative wealth than age, but then everyone knows my generation is disaffected.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:29 PM
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68: Well, I was trying not to say it, TJ.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:34 PM
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Sorry. In my Millenial Zeal, I guess I went too far.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:38 PM
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conventional analysis

contradictions as more the result of class

You know what I want to know? Why I can't write about class without thinking that people are going to dismiss me as some kind of wild-eyed radical. I'm writing a report right now, and I keep toying with adding some class-based analysis, and then retreating because I don't want to deal with the fallout.

It's kind of amazing, this near-silence on class in so many fields. I realize it flies in the face of the American narrative of upward mobility, but sheesh, isn't there any way to introduce the idea that maybe success in the workplace is partially dependent on whether your bosses are socially comfortable with you? There must be, but I just end up sounding like Karl Marx or Charles Murray.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:44 PM
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isn't there any way to introduce the idea that maybe success in the workplace is partially dependent on whether your bosses are socially comfortable with you?

I'm not sure I follow why this would be a controversial suggestion. I imagine it would have to do with the specifics of the report: you are expected to be concluding in one direction, with a set of policy proposals (?) that will surprise no one, but introducing class would take you in a direction that's dispreferred? (Guessing.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:50 PM
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73: I think it's tricky to tease out the various ways in which "class" is used...that's one thing. Do we mean "culture", and how do we mean it? Is it like I can't talk about my glamorous foreign vacations with my boss and that makes him feel that I'm not managerial material, or that I never learned to write a grammatical sentence and my business letters are a disgrace? And how is this backed up by money and social capital? If I'm rich enough, after all, it doesn't matter that my letters are a disgrace.

But fundamentally I think to talk about class is seen as an implicit call to action, and that makes people uncomfortable. We've internalized sort of utopian-enlightenment values as how things "should" be, and when we see incontrovertible evidence that things are otherwise we feel that we ought to feel like acting. But we don't really want to change anything--or most of us don't--and so we get all upset. Better not to bring it up in the first place.

The unique thing about contemporary "democracy" (she said, wild-eyed) is the way that the bosses want to believe that we're all happy to be peons. In certain respects, old JP Morgan was to be preferred--at least he could grasp that the poor were reasonable to hate being exploited.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:52 PM
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People who look at the actual demographics on this sort of thing are Completely Missing The Point. "Boomer" is just a collective term for a set of people with some broadly shared cultural experiences, as related to measurable reality as "X." Those unable to think in cultural rather than biological terms should just start calling the cohort "W."

I think the Strauss & Howe scheme from their 1990 book on this put the boundaries in about the right place -- the cusp where I am is old enough to have known about the Kennedy assassination in real time, to remember the moon landing and TV coverage of Viet Nam. Only truly exception people even two years younger than me would fit. I totally buy 1960 as the end of this.

The next cusp is about where we started doing things 'for the children' like requiring car seats, thinking about improving schools (which up to them were inhabited by those damn kids, the Rosemary's Baby generation) and the like. I think 1981 is good as the birth year, with ever greater solicitude kicking is as the 80s wore on (and the Golden Ones -- in contrast to the Hated Ones who preceded them -- advanced to the age where new safety measures, or other benefits were imagined).

Because it relies on shared cultural experiences, this scheme obviously wouldn't cover recent immigrants, people of brain-in-a-jar personality, and anyone else who was out of the mainstream.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:55 PM
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why this would be a controversial suggestion

Because it suggests that employers might not be fair and merit-based in their hiring and promotion decisions; because it implies that they ought to do a little more to counteract their own biases; because it implicitly critiques the social standards that say, for example, that my middle-class hotel guests will object if their housekeeper has an "outlandish" hairstyle.

And also because it implies that there is something wrong with hiring someone for a "full time" job with variable hours of 10-50 per week, and then forbidding them to take a second job.

But fundamentally I think to talk about class is seen as an implicit call to action, and that makes people uncomfortable.

Yeah. Can you come write my report, please, Frowner?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 1:59 PM
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73: You know what part of the problem is? The concept of 'class' has become a technical, academic concept -- not one used in everyday discourse. And academic analysis is heavily class-marked, as "upper-middle-professional, the people who are derided as elitist latte sippers". So by talking about class at all, you're identifying yourself as a superior elitist who holds everyone who doesn't spend their lives in some kind of seminar or something in contempt. And then that derails the whole discussion.

What you need is some kind of vocabulary for class that's immediately, comfortably familiar to non-academic types, Not that I know what that might be,


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:03 PM
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That's awesome. You can't talk about class because of ... class!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:09 PM
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77: Franco Moretti has pretty much already written your report in The Way of the World.. Of course, the section in question is about The Red and the Black, so you might have to change some of the proper nouns a little bit. I would be glad to come and do this for you if I were properly compensated of course.

Seriously? People care what kind of hairstyles hotel cleaners have? I never even see hotel cleaners, on those infrequent occasions when I stay in hotels, and surely the ones with dreadlocks or whatever could just wear hats.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:09 PM
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isn't there any way to introduce the idea that maybe success in the workplace is partially dependent on whether your bosses are socially comfortable with you? There must be, but I just end up sounding like Karl Marx or Charles Murray.

Class, I think, is a very knotty set of problems that no one seems very good at disentangling. Noting it in a report without solutions makes you sound like an irritatingly self-regarding prig. It's the proposal of solutions that --given how difficult the issues of class are--makes you sound like a wild-eyed radical. (None of the above is meant to be insulting; I'm just describing why you might expect an unfavorable reaction.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:10 PM
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Wait, I missed that you're writing a report, so academic-sounding language isn't a problem. Never mind.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:10 PM
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There's no more agreement about where classes begin and end than where generations begin and end, and there are as many exceptions within a class. We all know what you mean when you talk about class -- we all know what we think you mean, which might not have anything to do with what you are saying -- but the lack of precision is discussion deadening.

Who's middle class? To hear them tell it, anyone from the top 0.5% household income down to the bottom 10%. Maybe bottom 5% (I don't know that end very well, I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear) and even then, you have people in that bottom stratum with other forms of capital.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:10 PM
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What you need is some kind of vocabulary for class that's immediately, comfortably familiar to non-academic types, Not that I know what that might be,

Wouldn't that inevitably end up diverging from what academics mean when they talk about class? Look at what's happened to "race" and arguments about whether or not it exists.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:10 PM
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This is a hobby-horse of mine, but a huge problem with class vocabulary is that the lower/middle/upper workers/owners-and-professionals/aristocrats structure that we still use is obsolete. No one wants to call themselves 'upper class', not purely out of disingenuous faux-modesty, although there is some of that, but because we really aren't ruled by a small portion of the population that lives off income from land and doesn't work other than in governance. Our ruling class doesn't have the markers of an aristocracy that would make "upper class" in the 19thC and earlier sense a coherent description of them -- they mostly have jobs.

Someone needs to come up with a modern schematic description of our class structure, and get a new vocabulary (or come up with an explicit set of criteria for mapping modern class structure onto the old vocabulary.) Mostly people try to do a simple-minded income thing, and that just doesn't work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:19 PM
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academic-sounding language isn't a problem

No, you were on track in 78. I don't write for audiences that are comfortable with academic language. Some of them may understand it, but it's alienating, so I stay away from it.

In other news, the always-astute Frowner reveals herself as hopelessly non-managerial-class with the suggestion that people wear hats. Indoors. Not Done, that sort of thing.

(Seriously, at the lower end of the job market, people can absolutely be rejected for the terrible crime of wearing a knit cap to a job interview. Also, some people do not know that having your driver's license picture taken while you have curlers in your hair -- given that your employer is going to make a Xerox of said license -- is ill-advised.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:22 PM
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What you need is some kind of vocabulary for class that's immediately, comfortably familiar to non-academic types, Not that I know what that might be

In general, Americans are allergic to the language of class because it is inconsistent with the entire official model of their society. Class categories and boundaries are intensely moralized in the U.S., in a way that makes class position a matter of the moral desert of individuals. To be honest, the closest thing Americans have to a comfortably familiar vocabulary for class is their vocabulary for race.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:22 PM
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their

After a certain point, it will become your society, dude. Don't you have a couple of American-born kids?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:24 PM
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Seriously, at the lower end of the job market, people can absolutely be rejected for the terrible crime of wearing a knit cap to a job interview.

This is in line with some surprisingly powerful operational definitions of class position such as, "Can you have an unexcused three-day absence from work and not get fired as a result?"


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:25 PM
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87 -- Hah, and I supposed in place of the one drop rule, there's a one peasant rule? I can trace to someone who worked the land, therefore can't be upper class no matter how much money I make?

On that note, I've got to go get ready to go to a barbeque. The AA couple across the street -- certainly our class superiors, what with their Ivy degrees, his father being a federal judge, her high government position and all -- are having people over before they start kitchen renovations. (They're born after 1961, though, so I can look down on them for that . . .)


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:28 PM
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89 is so right. I gave testimony at a public hearing once and made a point of mentioning that my neighbors were equally concerned about the issue, but (mostly) did not have the luxury of a white-collar job that would allow them to take two hours off on a weekday morning to attend a wastewater hearing.

It was kind of nice, actually. One of the hearing officers made a point of saying that they would welcome any written feedback from people who couldn't be present, and gave the postal and e-mail addresses for sending it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:28 PM
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After a certain point, it will become your society, dude. Don't you have a couple of American-born kids?

Don't threaten my state of denial. I already face the awful prospect of learning the rules of baseball.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:32 PM
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They're very simple. Barring the infield fly rule.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:37 PM
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Witt-

I couldn't find the location for the DC volunteer opportunity posted the other day. Do you know?


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:41 PM
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(Seriously, at the lower end of the job market, people can absolutely be rejected for the terrible crime of wearing a knit cap to a job interview. Also, some people do not know that having your driver's license picture taken while you have curlers in your hair -- given that your employer is going to make a Xerox of said license -- is ill-advised.)

Forgive me for sounding dense -- after all, your 77 was a patient explanation of the context of the sort of report you're writing -- but would you be suggesting, in mentioning class, that employers overlook or be more forgiving of these things, foster a more egalitarian workplace; or that job training programs, if any, devote more attention to rules like "don't wear curlers in public" ... ?

The latter would obviously be much more readily received than the former; it allows, in other words, for mention of class disparities as barriers to employment, without necessarily pushing people's buttons.

It goes without saying that calling for an honest admission of class-based employment practices is unproductive in what we call the real world.

On preview, superceded.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:41 PM
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86: Despite my union job, my good (nay, glowing) annual review, etc, just discussing all this getting fired/hair/appearance/minor mistakes stuff is totally bringing on a panic attack in me and causing me to want to race in to work and work and work so that my worth is demonstrated and my position secure. I mean, I won't--it is Sunday, after all--but yikes.

I remind everyone that as a career secretary I represent the people.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:41 PM
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-it is Sunday, after all-

Witt's working. Why aren't you?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:44 PM
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Joshua Glenn uses this revisionary periodization, which makes sense to me, at least in terms of pop cultural affinities:

1944-53: Baby Boomers
1954-63: Baby Boomers OGXers (Original Generation X)
1964-73: Generation X PC Generation
1974-83: Generation Y Net Generation
1984-93: Millennials


Posted by: Moby Ape | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:46 PM
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Mostly people try to do a simple-minded income thing, and that just doesn't work.

Eh. I'm sure it's imperfect, but it seems to work better than any other suggestion I've heard. Perhaps something like "expected total income" or "maximum reasonable available lifetime income" or something. (I assume the social scientists have better answers.) And I'm not sure how changes of late have made a mess of notions of class, though I can believe that they have. But prior to what Krugman calls the Great Compression, weren't income levels much more disparate, with much more wealth concentration? And yet it's hard to imagine that people thought of Rockefeller's immediate subordinates, or the lawyers and accountants that worked for him, as middle class.

I wonder if notions of class were popularized and hardened in the US during the Great Compression. That might account for it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:46 PM
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Part of the problem might be that talk about class implies that there are "classes" and then you get into definition and boundary problems. Sometimes I wonder if using a word like "stratification" might be better, but all those syllables make me tired.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:50 PM
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95: The thing is, whether consciously or not, the upper strata of US society don't want the elimination of stupid class rules, just like most white people don't really want an end to white privilege.

Stupid class-based rules (like "you can't have your weird braids/dreads/funny-colored hair here, even if no one sees it") are just one more way to grind people down. You have to dress and style yourself and think for work all the damn time, without even the reward of decent money, and it's very difficult to develop any significant subcultural compensations for crap jobs. Smoke pot, fail your drug test, get fired; have rasta hair or stretched ears and loose your job at the call center, etc. Invest all your tiny amount of clothing money in work-appropriate clothes because you have to. And honestly, it makes managers uncomfortable if they find out that you have meaningful artistic or intellectual interests outside the job--it's like a little rebuke to them, that you're not actually some happy call center drone but that you might have skills in some other area that they don't.

Class distinctions allow mediocre middle class people more than they deserve, just like mediocre white people rise higher than they would without racism.

If there weren't huge benefits derived from stupid class discrimination, class discrimination would be given up...if it were only stupid, it would fade away like the idea that women must not wear pants in the office has faded.

No war but the class war, that's what I say.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:51 PM
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ASL, huh. Somehow I had in mind that the organizers were doing it at a D.C. hotel, but I just went back and looked the e-mail announcement I got and there isn't anything more than what LB put up in the post. There are a couple of reasons they might deliberately not have posted it, but probably just an oversight. I recommend contacting the woman listed at the bottom of the registration page.

Witt's working....because she has a job that will let her take off on Friday to hang out with an out-of-town friend. It's a cushy life I have.

(96: Awwww, Frowner.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:52 PM
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How many of the ways to make an out can you name off the top of your head, LB?

I think 85 is excellent, and I wonder if a corollary helps explain the resistance to progressive taxation, particularly the inheritance tax, that a lot of not otherwise lunatic people to the right of me seem to have. If you're a communard in 1848 or one of Huey Long's supporters in 1932, it's clear that you're never going to claw your way to being a member of the landed aristocracy. But in today's world, maybe class distinctions are more easy to elide, one day your ship is going to come in, you'll have five million dollars to pass on to your heirs.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 2:55 PM
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would you be suggesting, in mentioning class, that employers overlook or be more forgiving of these things

Only a little bit. It's more than I'm pointing out that what people are being asked to put up with, as low-wage workers, can be quite unreasonable (and thus managing to hang on to a job is more impressive than middle-class folks like to imagine, as they'd be fired the first time they used the phone for an unauthorized toll call).

And also that some issues are structural. (Why couldn't she keep her job? Well, she had to take public transportation to get there, and she lives in a lousy neighborhood, and she got scared standing at the bus stop at 5:30 a.m. every day, because it was still dark and she was getting hassled a lot, and people she know have gotten mugged or assaulted.) People don't like to be reminded of structural failings, for the reasons that Tim and Fowner and Gonerill et al. pointed out upthread.

And it's natural enough; I mean, heaven knows I hate feeling helpless too. Which is why I write reports! Reports That Will Change Everything. /end Eddie Izzard voice


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:00 PM
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Hah, and I supposed in place of the one drop rule, there's a one peasant rule? I can trace to someone who worked the land, therefore can't be upper class no matter how much money I make?

That's pretty much the only reason I wish we had a definition of class that made sense, so it would be possible to explain to someone that because their grandfather walked to work does not make them, the $200K lawyer, in touch with the people. This goes double for grad students. Yes, you're poor. Yes, you have options.

Beyond that, it's some kind of combination of education, income, and expectations. (If your kid goes to State instead of Posh U, do you feel like a failure or do you feel proud? Do you know how to dress for a professional job? Do you trust the police? Does your job have health care? What do you eat?)

And what we care about seems to vary based a lot based on context. Poor shivbunny's in the position of being a working-class guy by every definition except by whom he married. (And his taste for fruity vodka cocktails.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:01 PM
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And yet it's hard to imagine that people thought of Rockefeller's immediate subordinates, or the lawyers and accountants that worked for him, as middle class.

Immediate subordinates, no. Some lawyers and accountants, no; others in the same profession but at a lower level, possibly yes. To the extent that class warfare was seen as laborers vs. capitalists, a lot of people not in either group - but with varying degrees of wealth - could be seen as making up the middle. Class has always been difficult to pin down in the US.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:02 PM
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Holy smokes, I'm losing letters left and right. "People she knows," obviously, and "Frowner."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:03 PM
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I think you're just making a necessary correction, Witt--"Frowner" sounds so negative.


Posted by: Fowner | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:05 PM
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101: You have to dress and style yourself and think for work all the damn time

Yes. And damn it to hell. Is this class-related, though? The vast majority of us are workers, including those in the so-called upper classes; we're a market-based economy, valuing (fetishizing) the work ethic, esp. here in the US.

See LB's 85:

a huge problem with class vocabulary is that the lower/middle/upper workers/owners-and-professionals/aristocrats structure that we still use is obsolete. No one wants to call themselves 'upper class', not purely out of disingenuous faux-modesty, although there is some of that, but because we really aren't ruled by a small portion of the population that lives off income from land and doesn't work other than in governance. Our ruling class doesn't have the markers of an aristocracy that would make "upper class" in the 19thC and earlier sense a coherent description of them -- they mostly have jobs.

Sorry to quote at length there; getting tired.

The point isn't about work per se; instead, as Witt put it early on, people prefer to be surrounded by those who speak the same language, as it were, those with whom they're comfortable. That means alliance based on cultural (not necessarily income-related) class. We're terribly fearful of otherness.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:08 PM
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Well (in all seriousness) this has been helpful. Now back to the report. I will leave you all with an apropos column by Tom Friedman (!):

The event was a lottery to choose the first 80 students who will attend a new public boarding school -- the SEED School of Maryland -- based in Baltimore. [...] The vast majority of students are African-American, drawn from the most disadvantaged and violent school districts. [...]
Because its schools are financed by both private and public funds, SEED can offer this once-in-a-lifetime, small-class-size, prep-school education for free, but it can't cherry-pick its students. It has to be open to anyone who applies. The problem is that too many people apply, so it has to choose them by public lottery. SEED Maryland got more than 300 applications for 80 places.
The families all crowded into the Notre Dame auditorium, clutching their lottery numbers like rosaries. On stage, there were two of those cages they use in church-sponsored bingo games. Each ping-pong ball bore the lottery number of a student applicant. One by one, a lottery volunteer would crank the bingo cage, a ping-pong ball would roll out, the number would be read and someone in the audience would shriek with joy, while everyone else slumped just a little bit lower. One fewer place left...
[...] There's something wrong when so much of an American child's future is riding on the bounce of a ping-pong ball.

There you go. Observation of class-linked inequality, heartwarming/tearjerking story about tiny effort to overcome it, vague comment that we ought to be doing more of it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:10 PM
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We're terribly fearful of otherness.

Often for non-trivial reasons.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:10 PM
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"Can you have an unexcused three-day absence from work and not get fired as a result?"

Somewhat hilariously, if in a twisted way, this is what got an old roommate of mine's much despised co-worker fired. Previously he'd been suspected of drinking on the job but there wasn't enough eyewitness testimony to prove it, possibly in part because of veiled threats he made towards potential witnesses.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:14 PM
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109: If you're making a decent income, the amount of things you can do outside of work and the amount of vacation time you're apt to have to do them are greater, plus the sheer unpleasantness of many minor tasks is minimized--you have a car to run errands, you can probably afford movers when you move, you don't have to micro-comparison shop for groceries, etc.

Also, the amount of conformity required of the lower-downs is much greater than that generally required of the higher-ups. Contrast the various crochets and eccentricities allowed college professors and senior administrators with those allowed secretaries, for example. It's because professors and senior administrators are so well invested in the system that even if they're a bit odd or sympathize with unions or are socialist in a decorative way they won't actually rebel. Consider--you could probably get a comp lit teaching job with a publishing record wherein you supported unions and advocated socialism (that is, your belief in socialism would actually be a part of the materials evaluated by the hiring committee) but if a secretarial candidate said she was pro-union in and interview....


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:17 PM
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||

And his taste for fruity vodka cocktails

You might want to think of a way to get that bottle of vanilla rum to your sister once she's settled in DC; some kind of double blind drop off or something. (I drop it with someone who has a mutual friend, the someone drops it with the mutual friend -- operational security is maintained.)

|>


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:23 PM
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Someone needs to come up with a modern schematic description of our class structure, and get a new vocabulary (or come up with an explicit set of criteria for mapping modern class structure onto the old vocabulary.) Mostly people try to do a simple-minded income thing, and that just doesn't work.

I think that, if you look at modern Marxism, there are a number of good faith attempts that do OK with this. But it's not like Marx's class structure is a stable tripartite system that continues into perpetuity. The malleability of bourgeois identity is pretty much foundational, no? The lawyer mentioned above can, at best, play act at being either a Rockefeller or a shop steward, but the reality is still that he's a lot closer to the latter than the former. You still can only make the jump from bourgeois to aristocracy by an act of god, essentially, but can ceaselessly pretend that difference is flexible and unclear.


Posted by: tw | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:31 PM
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113: Understood.

110: One of these days, health insurance will be handed out like that. Or hey, health care in its own right.

Jesus, this is profoundly depressing. I don't want to talk about it any more. Obama will fix it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 3:44 PM
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115: It's not so bad at the middle/working distinction -- the problem with it is that our top class isn't much like Marx's top class, so the vocabulary gets all messed up.

99: Eh. I'm sure it's imperfect, but it seems to work better than any other suggestion I've heard. Perhaps something like "expected total income" or "maximum reasonable available lifetime income" or something.

Wealth isn't as tightly related to income as you might think, and is much more important.

103: Strike out, fly out, foul out (as a subset of fly out? I don't know if it counts as something separate), get thrown out, get tagged out, get forced out. There are probably more, but I'm not a fan.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 4:04 PM
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Becks is clearly on the cusp between X-er and GA.

I have an attitude towards the internet closer to GA but an attitude about The Man and work far closer to Gen X.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 4:10 PM
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117

"103: Strike out, fly out, foul out (as a subset of fly out? I don't know if it counts as something separate), get thrown out, get tagged out, get forced out. There are probably more, but I'm not a fan."

Interfere with a fielder, run out of the base path, pass another base runner, miss a base, get struck by a batted ball in fair territory, bat out of order, infield fly rule and no doubt more. The point being baseball has a lot of obscure rules.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 4:26 PM
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No way someone who's 47 today is part of the same Generation X that I'm a part of.

Oh? My husband's 43. My boyfriend's 46. I'm 40. You're 30-something. IME we're all roughly the same generation.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 4:34 PM
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Yeah, but you can watch a fair amount of baseball without being confused by your lack of knowledge of the obscurities.-- the basic rules, which are pretty simple, are enough that you can follow the vast majority of events.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 4:40 PM
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120: I've said before that I think there's some kind of generational line at not much younger than I am (36), People up to their mid-late forties seem to have the same cultural touchstones I do, but a couple of years younger are different. A combination of the technology they grew up with rather than encountering as an adult (cellphones, internet), and the Cold War as history rather than memory.

Not that this is all that important, I've just found it socially noticeable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 4:52 PM
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I am going on 29, and I remember the Cold War pretty vividly.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 4:53 PM
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Yeah, like all generalizations this one's probably largely wrong. But don't you remember the end of the Cold War as an event more than the Cold War as a static state of being?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:00 PM
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Wealth isn't as tightly related to income as you might think, and is much more important.

Maybe not. I think there must be some relationship between the two. I searched around a (very) little, and found the following, which suggests the two track, but that wealth is much more concentrated.

The income-rich also tend to be both earnings-rich and wealth-rich. In fact, the households in the top income quintile hold very similar shares of earnings, income, and wealth: 57.7 percent, 58.0 percent, and 66.6 percent, re- spectively; and their normalized earnings, income, and wealth are also very similar: about three times the corre- sponding sample averages (Chart 8)

OTOH:

We find that wealth, with a Gini index of 0.803, is by far the most concentrated of the three variables; that earnings, with a Gini index of 0.611, ranks second; and that income, with a Gini index of 0.553, is the least concentrated of the three.Furthermore, we find that the correlations between earnings and wealth and between income and wealth, which are 0.463 and 0.600, respectively, are significantly smaller than the correlation between earnings and income, which is 0.715.
(PDF here.)

("Earnings" is probably the category we're speaking about here when we say "income.") I skimmed it, so maybe I've caught the wrong end of the stick. In any case, I included the PDF link because, AFAICT, they seem to be trying to address the question you're wondering about. (I can't pretend to have made sense of much of it.)

I'm not sure how much of the question is really about having the proverbial "'Fuck you' money," or, more hopefully, to what extent it's about the rising affordablity of things (visit Europe, etc.) we might previously have associated with the well-off.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:01 PM
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the Cold War as history rather than memory

I'd include crime, a broader sense of economic malaise and/or disruption, and a much deeper sense that race/gender issues were intractable. You don't really hear about plants laying off 100K+ people anymore. Perhaps that's because we're just used to it. And I just saw a piece recently in the NYT about the Bell thing that quoted some member of some relevant community (I assumed African-American) as saying that people were willing to take a second look because the city seemed so much less race-obsessed.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:04 PM
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But don't you remember the end of the Cold War as an event more than the Cold War as a static state of being?

I'm apparently around AWB's age, and what I remember of the Cold War from my childhood was a palpable terror that the world could be destroyed, at any moment, by powers infinitely beyond my reach and (at that point) beyond my comprehension, and that there was nothing at all I could do about it. I had lots of dreams about mushroom clouds, apocalyptic clouds of glowing fog swallowing the earth, giant radioactive tornadoes descending over my hometown, etc. I also remember the Berlin Wall coming down, and I remember thinking to myself, "So what?" But then I was fairly precocious.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:13 PM
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127 is pretty much my experience. When I started babysitting, the Cold War was over, but I remember feeling it was odd that the kids never suggested that we play Good Guys Vs. Russians. The Russians were always understood to be the Bad Guys.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:22 PM
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which suggests the two track, but that wealth is much more concentrated.

The gap in median net worth between black and white families is so large most people don't believe the numbers when they first hear them. The last time I saw numbers (early 2000s) the median black family had a net worth of $17,000 and the median white family a net worth of $121,000.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:29 PM
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129: I can't believe you didn't include this link. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem, G.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:34 PM
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129 - IIRC, this has a great deal to do with the ~30% home ownership gap between blacks and whites (which is really just kicking the question down a block, but hey).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:35 PM
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129: And I bet there's a similar class gap, between making decent money and,say, owning your house, and making the same money and having it all go to fix family problems, among whites.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:35 PM
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Im old enough to remember living during the Cold War, but not old enough to remember it as feeling like an Actual Threat. Id draw generational dividing lines in terms of geopolitical stuff only when said geopolitical stuff seems important to everyday life.

Things I remember as sort of defining, generationally speaking

taking the bus to school
Sesame Street
dial phones
race as an "issue", and being Not Racist as important
Reagan
Steven Spielberg/George Lucas/John Hughes movies
AIDS
Kurt Cobain's suicide
downsizing/mistrust of social security/the norming of changing jobs or even careers every few years/temping

Things that I'd say "my" generation remembers being "new":

cable television
cordless phones
cell phones
home computers
AIDS
downsizing/mistrust of social security/the norming of changing jobs or even careers every few years/temping

Things I predict will be characteristic of PK's generation:

global warming
home computers
cell phones
Asia as important cultural/economic force


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:51 PM
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One thing that I think subdivides "my" generation between kids born in the 60s/70s and kids born in the 80s is whether or not people remember gas rationing, having to save energy, parents yelling at you to turn down the heat, 55mph speed limits, and (if you're in California, anyway) not flushing the toilet every time you pee (which I still do).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:54 PM
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My family collected cans off the street for extra money. Maybe it's because I live in an urban area now where the only people who collect cans are drug addicts, but it's hard for me to imagine a middle-class family doing this now.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 5:59 PM
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132: You must be right. IIRC, people have often said that the poor white community, for example, is bigger than the poor black community. I wonder to what extent the size of that population relative to the larger population--and I don't know how you would appropriately define such populations--is a problem in itself. I have long wondered whether the relative intractability of a host of social ills associated with the African-American community--and both the ills and the intractability are half-remembered from an intro class a long time ago--are a function of the inability to leave the problem behind, as it were. I can easily imagine the same sort of thing being a problem in a white subpopulation; rurals, for example, might be more stuck than others.

Kurt Cobain's suicide

I believe you that it is important, but I can't believe it. I thought it was the least credible thing in About a Boy. I'm not much of a music person, though.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 6:00 PM
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whether or not people remember gas rationing,

Gawd, yes.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 6:01 PM
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AIDS

Especially the Very Special Episode of Belvedere about Ryan White.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 6:03 PM
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133: Good lists, B. About right (I'm in the same age cohort as you). "Reagan" stands out.

The only thing I'd add to what was "new" is something gastronomic or nutritional: the introduction of salads! and yogurt and such, as not just for weirdos any more.

The dividing line LB's mentioned a couple of times now (122) is real: growing up with the internet as opposed to encountering it as an adult. I don't think I even started using a mouse until I was 23 or something.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 6:07 PM
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We got the internet when I was 16 and I immediately saw it as an opportunity to talk dirty with strangers. Some things, they never change.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 6:10 PM
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But don't you remember the end of the Cold War as an event more than the Cold War as a static state of being?

For me, yes. I remember it existing, but coming to an end. AIDS would have been the bigger bugaboo for me as a ten-year-old. I remember most of the things on B's first list as being relevant, but all of the things she remembers as being new were just things that were part of the background.

Cell phone is the big one for me. I remember, on 9/11, I had just started work, and the cell phone I had ordered as part of being a businesswoman had not yet come in, because I had to borrow one from a random guy who had analog on his to call home. (I was in Cleveland, and all we were hearing was 'a plane hit south of Pittsburgh.') Two months later, the cell phone companies had figured out that nervous parents equaled marketing potential, and everyone old enough to drive had one.

125: Off the top of my head, I'd say it's not 'Fuck you money' as 'Fuck up money': having enough of a cushion so your fuckup or the fuckup of a family member doesn't sink you.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 6:14 PM
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What kind of mutant academic field is uncomfortable with the discussion of class? (Other than economics, of course.) Is it a paper for physics class?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 6:55 PM
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Walt, we talk about conjugacy classes all the time in physics classes.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 7:01 PM
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That's a gigantically good point that I really should have seen, especially as it seems like a much clearer restatement of the issue (or a related one) I was trying to describe in #136.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 7:38 PM
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More than 4 channels of TV (3 network plus one independent).
Foreign cars, even from Japan, not being strange.



Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 7:59 PM
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Cell phone is the big one for me.

I remember the change from few cell phones in the US to many around the same period, but I'd been in France for a few months in 1999 and cell phones were all over the place there, so I saw it more as the US market just catching up with what Europe was doing.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 8:06 PM
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stras, did you ever think that just maybe you are a pessimistic person by nature?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:06 PM
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Walt, did you ever think you were in the wrong thread?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:13 PM
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Read 127, and see that you have already been pwned.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:45 PM
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Though my comment would go equally well in the other thread, it's true.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:45 PM
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Ah, I see. It fit so well at the time with the other comments in the recent comments feed.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:49 PM
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145: Some other markers of around the same vintage:

Bar codes
Self-service gas (yes, yes, New Jersey)
Slide rules to calculators


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 9:56 PM
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The switchover from teaching regular non-cursive handwriting to teaching that silly pre-cursive shit with the tails on all the letters.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:01 PM
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Asia as important cultural/economic force

Change 'Asia' to 'China'. Otherwise, I think this belongs in the second list (especially if you change 'Asia' to 'Japan').


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:02 PM
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153: Wha? (Genuinely curious.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:06 PM
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Look at any little kid's handwriting since about 1987; they have tails on all the ends of their d's, h's, i's, k's, l's, m's, n's, t's, and u's. It's like cursive, except the letters aren't actually joined. I think it's awful. They tried to switch me over in elementary school and I refused.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:35 PM
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156: It's called something like "Denealian" (phonetic) writing. Supposedly, the theory is that it makes the transition to cursive easier. To which my immediate response was to wonder when kids ever had trouble with that transition.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:47 PM
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people have often said that the poor white community, for example, is bigger than the poor black community

"People have often said" is a weird phrase to use to describe a fact.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:49 PM
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"People have often said" is a weird phrase to use to describe a fact.

It was meant only to indicate that my sense of it comes from hearing it a lot, not from any study to which I can point.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 10:56 PM
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115: It's not so bad at the middle/working distinction -- the problem with it is that our top class isn't much like Marx's top class, so the vocabulary gets all messed up.

Um, which of Marx's top classes? From memory, Marx defines at least three different `top' classes -- the aristocracy, who were top before, the bourgeois, who are top now, and the proletariat, who will be top.

I think that American society now looks surprisingly like Marx's vision of a bourgeois run society.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 05-25-08 11:12 PM
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Our ruling class doesn't have the markers of an aristocracy that would make "upper class" in the 19thC and earlier sense a coherent description of them -- they mostly have jobs.

The fact that multi-millionaires and billionaires still work has more to do with the thriumph of bourgeois values (when even the royals sell photo spreads of their weddings in Hello...) than with the idea that there's no more upper class. These aren't people who have to work for a living, but who choose to do so because work gives you meaning. The only people these days allowed a life of leisure are our pop stars.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 1:14 AM
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156: Huh. My elementary school didn't do that.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 6:33 AM
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wonder when kids ever had trouble with that transition
*waves*
Third grade, 1984. Cursive never stuck at all.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 7:16 AM
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Help is here, Nathan!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 8:10 AM
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I'm not saying there's no ruling/upper class anymore. I'm saying that the markers of it have changed in a way that screws up our developed-in-the-19th-centure class vocabulary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 8:15 AM
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165: I guess I'm not sure what you mean by "ruling/upper class." That is, I'm not sure what characteristics you associate with it, and what characteristics you associate with the other classes.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 8:25 AM
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We had awful cursive-writing workbooks in second grade, which I was forever pretending to have lost. I don't know whether I would have liked it better if the style of cursive they taught us was something more attractive, or perhaps if they'd waited until third or fourth grade to teach it, or both.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 8:32 AM
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While we're on the topic of penmanship, I don't suppose anyone here happens to know the name of the style or method of cursive taught in (south east) England in the early and mid-twentieth century? All my relatives seem to have had identical handwriting, and I'm curious about what the style is called.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 8:39 AM
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AWB is talking about D'Nealian, which I learned, and which was really strange.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 8:44 AM
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We had awful cursive-writing workbooks in second grade, which I was forever pretending to have lost.

I consistently got bad marks for penmanship in grade school. Which is kind of funny, as calligraphy used to be one of my hobbies.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 8:46 AM
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Also reading this thread makes me feel like I've been living alternately in the future and the past. I would date the widespread adoption of cel phones much earlier, I learned D'Nealian in school much earlier than 1987, yet I remember the cold war as an ongoing, seemingly endless thing, and found its end quite startling.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-26-08 8:49 AM
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168: Copperplate.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 2:10 AM
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168: Copperplate.

Hrm. And yet it sure isn't that. Maybe it's the natural result of not bothering to write in the troublesome copperplate of school, I guess.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 5:10 AM
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My father was born in 1912 and my mother in 1925. Both of them described what they were taught as copperplate, although it's clearly distinct from classical c/p and from the typeface of that name. My suspicion is that the name was applied to the hand being taught, however it evolved, up to the introduction of the self consciously pedagogic stuff like the Marion Richardson I was subjected to post war. But that's a guess.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 5:17 AM
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It's called something like "Denealian" (phonetic) writing. Supposedly, the theory is that it makes the transition to cursive easier. To which my immediate response was to wonder when kids ever had trouble with that transition.

In my limited understanding of the matter, a major problem with the traditional block letter manuscript is that it forces very young children to draw clean circles and straight lines, which are the very shapes that they have the most trouble rendering. The curvature of the D'Nealian handwriting method is allegedly easier for young children with developing fine motor skills to master.

The major problem with it from my perspective is that I have realized that I can't help my children with writing at home, because what I would teach them contradicts what they learn at school. But FWIW, I am placing my faith in the pedagogical-industrial complex on this one.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 5:33 AM
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My suspicion is that the name was applied to the hand being taught, however it evolved, up to the introduction of the self consciously pedagogic stuff like the Marion Richardson I was subjected to post war. But that's a guess.

Oh, I see. Interesting.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 5:36 AM
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Having the name of Marion Richardson to search on led me to this interesting document.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 5:40 AM
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And oh! The adult version of the Richardson "round hand" is totally my relatives' handwriting.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 5:46 AM
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177. That's a fascinating page. I think this: "In appearance Vere Foster's system is essentially a less elongated, more rounded Copperplate, as can be seen in illustration" explains the "copperplate" of my parents' generation, whereas I am of your parents' generation, so that stuff looks very familiar. I departed from MR personally because I was an affected prat as a teenager, who liked to use e.g. Greek "d"s etc. but mine is still quite similar.

Why have the younger generation abandoned joined up writing? It's so slow.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 6:14 AM
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The document suggests that British handwriting in general is replete with adolescent affectations, so you're in good company. My grandmother and her sister also had the family handwriting, which if really the result of having been taught the Richardson style means they must have been taught it in the very first wave of her system (and/or whatever other local influences were affecting later generations) -- but they lived in Bethnel Green, so that's actually fairly plausible.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 6:21 AM
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Bethnal, sorry.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 6:21 AM
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Anyhow, thanks very much for the Marion Richardson lead. Fun!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 6:24 AM
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It seems mine really is closest to the Nelson Roundhand [although much scruffier], which would make sense given the location.

Odd. I never really thought about it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 6:28 AM
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180. Yes, quite likely, from context. I have to say that many of my contemporaries, inc. me, have abandoned "the most distinctive forms of the pure Marion Richardson system are the long open /f/ and the open /b/ and /p/", because they're butt ugly IMO, and reverted to the late copperplate versions. If your grandmother still uses them, I'd say it was absolutely diagnostic.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 6:31 AM
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Yes, the open b and p especially are very noticeable.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-27-08 6:47 AM
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