Posts tagged "america"

She hungered to know everything about America, to wear a new, knowing skin right away: to support a team at the Super Bowl, understand what a Twinkie was and what sports “lockouts” meant, measure in ounces and square feet, order a “muffin” without thinking that it really was a cake, and say “I ‘scored’ a deal” without feeling silly.
 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

And they ambled, these Americans, they walked without rhythm. They avoided giving direct instructions: they did not say “Ask somebody upstairs”; they said “You might want to ask somebody upstairs.” When you tripped and fell, when you choked, when misfortune befell you, they did not say “Sorry.” They said “Are you okay?” when it was obvious that you were not. And when you said “Sorry” to them when they choked or tripped or encountered misfortune, they replied, eyes wide with surprise, “Oh, it’s not your fault.” And they overused the word “excited,” a professor excited about a new book, a student excited about a new class, a politician on TV excited about a law; it was altogether too much excitement.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

At the checkout, the blond cashier asked, “Did anybody help you?”

"Yes," Ginika said.

"Cheley or Jennifer?"

"I’m sorry. I don’t remember her name." Ginika looked around, to point at her helper, but both young women had disappeared into the fitting rooms at the back.

"Was it the one with long hair?" the cashier asked.

"Well, both of them had long hair."

"The one with dark hair?"

Both of them had dark hair.

Ginika smiled and looked at the cashier and the cashier smiled and looked at her computer screen, and two damp seconds crawled past before she cheerfully said, “It’s okay, I’ll figure it out later and make sure she gets her commission.”

As they walked out of the store, Ifemelu said, “I was waiting for her to ask, ‘Was it the one with two eyes or the one with two legs?’ Why didn’t she just ask ‘Was it the black girl or the white girl?’”

Ginika laughed. “Because this is America. You’re supposed to pretend that you don’t notice certain things.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

Obinze just said trunk, ma. He said it’s in the trunk of your car." In their America–Britain jousting, she always sided with his mother.

“Trunk is part of a tree and not a part of a car, my dear son,” his mother said. When Obinze pronounced “schedule” with the k sound, his mother said, “Ifemelunamma, please tell my son I don’t speak American. Could he say that in English?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

Team Obinze, tbh


For added context in the “Is Lorde Racist???" tiff, consider how Americans talk about New Zealand cultural practices.


Going to the MLB game in Sydney tomorrow; this new nail polish makes me think I should support the Dodgers, even if I did meet one of the D-backs on Wednesday night. He and I went to high school in the same town, about a year apart, which was both interesting and awkward. Nice guy though.
Not that it was ever necessary, but how glad am I Snoop and Wiz both got they nails did in about the same twelve month period as I started doing mine.
Anyways, yeah I generally buy cheap shit, but this is great? That’s two coats, and the second was hardly necessary.
I might do blue sparkles over the top for Sunday when I go to Kyary.

Going to the MLB game in Sydney tomorrow; this new nail polish makes me think I should support the Dodgers, even if I did meet one of the D-backs on Wednesday night. He and I went to high school in the same town, about a year apart, which was both interesting and awkward. Nice guy though.

Not that it was ever necessary, but how glad am I Snoop and Wiz both got they nails did in about the same twelve month period as I started doing mine.

Anyways, yeah I generally buy cheap shit, but this is great? That’s two coats, and the second was hardly necessary.

I might do blue sparkles over the top for Sunday when I go to Kyary.


[Labor] are only half-baked republicans … [I]f we weakly … just sort of take it when no one else wants it, you know — “so, oh, now we’re a republic” — I mean, George Washington didn’t do this with George III. Those Americans knew exactly what they needed.

Few can remember a time when music wasn’t a tool of self-definition, but until the second half of the twentieth century this was only a small part of a song’s appeal. For most people living in the world, circa 1920, music was embedded into their life, not chosen as a lifestyle accessory. But gradually, over the next several decades, music’s value as a pathway of personal definition came to the forefront of our culture. Sometimes the shift was barely perceptible, but in retrospect we can gauge its profound impact. For example, people in rural America didn’t choose country music during the early decades of the 20th century, but were literally born into its ethos; yet by the ’70s, country music had evolved into a lifestyle choice, a posture adopted by millions who never roped a steer or herded cattle, but still wanted to affiliate themselves with the values espoused by the songs. By the time we arrive at the age of disco and punk rock, the music consciously builds its appeal on lifestyle considerations.

Ted Gioia, “Music Criticism Has Degenerated Into Lifestyle Reporting,” The Daily Beast, March 18, 2014

And yet…

Bill Malone, Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’: Country Music and the Southern Working Class (2002):

While country music has always borne the marks of its southern and working-class origins, it could not have survived or prospered had it remained exclusively linked to those constituencies. Even during its early hillbilly days it attracted fans in the North and around the world because of its presumed southern traits — whether romantically or negatively expressed — or because it seemed to fill a vacuum left by the decline of the older style of Tin Pan Alley music. One suspects that country music still captures listeners everywhere with themes that would have been familiar to fans in the 1920s — nostalgia, escape, fantasy, human-interest drama, gritty realism, and evocations of values that seem imperiled by modernity. Observing the national popularity of country music in our own time — a facet of the phenomenon described by John Egerton as the “southernization of America” — Peter Applebome declared that “country formed a visceral bond with lower- and lower-middle class whites like no other music of our time.”

And I know I’m always pushing back against this dim “by the ’70s country music had [been] adopted by millions who never roped a steer or herded cattle” line, but I’ll say it again: As a result of half a century of urbanization, industrialization, and government investment, the 1970s white South was very different to the 1920s white South. Why on earth, then, would you expect its music not to have changed?

[See also Mike Barthel on the Gioia piece]


I reviewed John Sides and Lynn Vavreck’s The Gamble for the magazine!

In many ways, The Gamble acts as a counter to the addictive and gossipy Game Change series Washington journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin have penned during the past two campaigns (see Nicole Hemmer’s review). The contrast might even be deliberate; The Gamble reveals in its opening line that 68 individual moments during the 2012 campaign were described as “game-changers” somewhere in the American media, and Sides and Vavreck have a decidedly more sober view of electoral politics. “The continual search for game-changers treats a campaign like a boxing match, where the momentum may be shifting back and forth with every punch and the knockout blow could come at any moment,” they write. “In reality, there are few knockout punches, and most game-changers do not really change the game that much.”
This means — as the authors demonstrate with exhaustive reference to polling, modelling, and charts aplenty — that such widely touted news events as Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment or the “47% video” leaked to liberal website Mother Jones, which showed Mitt Romney dismissing close to half the American public as “dependent on the government,” had almost no impact on voters whatsoever. 
Also meaningless in terms of shifting voter opinion: any of Romney’s widely reported “gaffes,” the Obama campaign’s summer advertising blitz hammering Romney for his connection to private equity firm Bain Capital, and the disruptive effects of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the east coast in the last week of October. 

On one level, I think this is a really important book, and it would be great if loads of people read it — especially people interested in American politics, and especially people professionally interested in American politics. (Though I’d much rather such people first read Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State; Talking Right; or Nixonland.) But on the other hand, for me it unexpectedly exposed the limits of political science — something I hinted at previously. Reading The Gamble, I started to think about the strengths of the Game Change books: how they portray the human side of politics, how even if elections aren’t driven by personalities, politicians can be, how our first draft of history will inevitably be messy and impressionistic and foolish. Don’t get me wrong, Halperin and Heilemann are exactly the kinds of reporters who would benefit having their exuberances tempered by Sides and Vavreck. But journalists exist for a reason, and though the authors of The Gamble are quite capable communicators (you don’t write for WaPo if you’re not), they’re researchers first and writers second, and you can tell. And I firmly believe that good writing isn’t window-dressing; how you say something is as meaningful as what you’re saying.
The other thing is that if you paid attention to the right blogs throughout the campaign, a lot of this stuff isn’t new. Which doesn’t mean The Gamble isn’t worthwhile — a book is more permanent than a blog post, and has a wider reach — but it does mean that for certain folks, its revelations are less stunning than might be supposed.
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I reviewed John Sides and Lynn Vavreck’s The Gamble for the magazine!

In many ways, The Gamble acts as a counter to the addictive and gossipy Game Change series Washington journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin have penned during the past two campaigns (see Nicole Hemmer’s review). The contrast might even be deliberate; The Gamble reveals in its opening line that 68 individual moments during the 2012 campaign were described as “game-changers” somewhere in the American media, and Sides and Vavreck have a decidedly more sober view of electoral politics. “The continual search for game-changers treats a campaign like a boxing match, where the momentum may be shifting back and forth with every punch and the knockout blow could come at any moment,” they write. “In reality, there are few knockout punches, and most game-changers do not really change the game that much.”

This means — as the authors demonstrate with exhaustive reference to polling, modelling, and charts aplenty — that such widely touted news events as Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment or the “47% video” leaked to liberal website Mother Jones, which showed Mitt Romney dismissing close to half the American public as “dependent on the government,” had almost no impact on voters whatsoever. 

Also meaningless in terms of shifting voter opinion: any of Romney’s widely reported “gaffes,” the Obama campaign’s summer advertising blitz hammering Romney for his connection to private equity firm Bain Capital, and the disruptive effects of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the east coast in the last week of October. 

On one level, I think this is a really important book, and it would be great if loads of people read it — especially people interested in American politics, and especially people professionally interested in American politics. (Though I’d much rather such people first read Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State; Talking Right; or Nixonland.) But on the other hand, for me it unexpectedly exposed the limits of political science — something I hinted at previously. Reading The Gamble, I started to think about the strengths of the Game Change books: how they portray the human side of politics, how even if elections aren’t driven by personalities, politicians can be, how our first draft of history will inevitably be messy and impressionistic and foolish. Don’t get me wrong, Halperin and Heilemann are exactly the kinds of reporters who would benefit having their exuberances tempered by Sides and Vavreck. But journalists exist for a reason, and though the authors of The Gamble are quite capable communicators (you don’t write for WaPo if you’re not), they’re researchers first and writers second, and you can tell. And I firmly believe that good writing isn’t window-dressing; how you say something is as meaningful as what you’re saying.

The other thing is that if you paid attention to the right blogs throughout the campaign, a lot of this stuff isn’t new. Which doesn’t mean The Gamble isn’t worthwhile — a book is more permanent than a blog post, and has a wider reach — but it does mean that for certain folks, its revelations are less stunning than might be supposed.

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Krugman is talking inequality with reference to this chart, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen liberals who are discussing the issue use men’s wages as a base. (The point here being that, in real terms, 60 per cent of American men have seen their income fall over the past 40 years.) I think the idea is that if you use men’s wages as a measure, you’re accessing a controlled sample, since social changes haven’t altered men’s participation in the workforce and remuneration the way it has women’s. Ceteris Paribus.
But… why should men be the control? I mean, if we’re trying to gauge inequality, surely change in gender-induced inequality is just as meaningful as changes in class-induced inequality? Person A’s lower wage compared to Person B’s doesn’t become more excusable if Person A is a woman.
And, while in my brief search, I couldn’t find the exact data Krugman sourced, this similar set suggests that women’s wages have risen in real terms across all percentiles since 1973. (Though, dismally, for some they’ve fallen since 1979 — thanks Ronald Reagan.) That’s an important data point when considering inequality, and the liberal desire to draw attention to class-based inequality shouldn’t permit putting the thumb on the scale by comparing the situation of men now to the situation when women’s wages were even more artificially depressed than they are now.
One way to look at this, incidentally, is that as women have made gains, men have lost; men, forced to compete against new talent, are unable to maintain as high a living standard as they once did. But this doesn’t take into account the increased productivity from abandoning the inefficiencies of a workforce that doesn’t provide proper consideration to the talents of fifty per cent of its number.
Which brings me to a question about productivity: why isn’t gender equality a big part of the discussion of increasing productivity? If women’s wages are being artificially constrained (and they are), then that means the economy isn’t operating at peak efficiency. Men are, effectively, seeking rent on their penises. Considering American women earn 81 cents on the dollar compared to American men, addressing this disparity seems to be ripe grounds for easy gains in productivity. Jus spitballing, but, anyone interested in supply-side inefficiencies should probably be very interested in gender inequality, I reckon.

Krugman is talking inequality with reference to this chart, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen liberals who are discussing the issue use men’s wages as a base. (The point here being that, in real terms, 60 per cent of American men have seen their income fall over the past 40 years.) I think the idea is that if you use men’s wages as a measure, you’re accessing a controlled sample, since social changes haven’t altered men’s participation in the workforce and remuneration the way it has women’s. Ceteris Paribus.

But… why should men be the control? I mean, if we’re trying to gauge inequality, surely change in gender-induced inequality is just as meaningful as changes in class-induced inequality? Person A’s lower wage compared to Person B’s doesn’t become more excusable if Person A is a woman.

And, while in my brief search, I couldn’t find the exact data Krugman sourced, this similar set suggests that women’s wages have risen in real terms across all percentiles since 1973. (Though, dismally, for some they’ve fallen since 1979 — thanks Ronald Reagan.) That’s an important data point when considering inequality, and the liberal desire to draw attention to class-based inequality shouldn’t permit putting the thumb on the scale by comparing the situation of men now to the situation when women’s wages were even more artificially depressed than they are now.

One way to look at this, incidentally, is that as women have made gains, men have lost; men, forced to compete against new talent, are unable to maintain as high a living standard as they once did. But this doesn’t take into account the increased productivity from abandoning the inefficiencies of a workforce that doesn’t provide proper consideration to the talents of fifty per cent of its number.

Which brings me to a question about productivity: why isn’t gender equality a big part of the discussion of increasing productivity? If women’s wages are being artificially constrained (and they are), then that means the economy isn’t operating at peak efficiency. Men are, effectively, seeking rent on their penises. Considering American women earn 81 cents on the dollar compared to American men, addressing this disparity seems to be ripe grounds for easy gains in productivity. Jus spitballing, but, anyone interested in supply-side inefficiencies should probably be very interested in gender inequality, I reckon.



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