Sunday, February 7, 2010

People like Us: Social Class in America

In Monday's class you will watch a movie called "People like us" about class in America. I want you to think about the following questions when you view the movie.

1) What are some of the symbols that differentiate different classes from each other?

2) Are there distinct class cultures? Do you think the movie is trying to suggest that there are class cultures and it is hard to cross class boundaries because of these cultures?

3) Identify some of the ways that the movie shows how people are "socialized" in to being who they are. How do they differ across classes?

4) Are we socialized in to different class groups? If we are, are we aware of the process?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008


This is obviously borderline illegal, but who am I to judge? Besides, the last "movies" link I put on here was shut down.

Trip to Pittsburgh

Trip to Pittsburgh

A couple of weeks ago, Justice and I drove to Pittsburgh to meet Songhua, who was taking a mult-state tour of the East Coast in a rental car. It is only a 3 hour drive for us (10 hours for Songhua) so we packed up the car and and left Mom at home to get some work done. It rained most of the way, but it was a reasonable drive and we it with little more than half a tank of gas.

If you have never arrived in Pittsburgh by car on I-70, I highly recommend it. There is little evidence of a city and though you know it is near because the map tells you it is, you are left wondering where the hell it is up to the last couple of miles. Finally, you enter a long tunnel and without warning you come out into the heart of the city. It is really a striking entrance to the city, especially at night with all the lights, and you are literally eye level with the skyscrapers and lights of the city. I highly recommend this entrance.

Fortunately, the rest of our time in Pittsburgh was perfect weather. We stayed until Sunday and walked just about everywhere we went--Pittsburgh is a very walkable city so bring some walking shoes if you go. Since we arrived late Friday, we didn't do anything Friday night except order room service, which I think Justice fell in love with because he kept asking for room service. Saturday we got up and walked to the National Aviary. This is pretty much a giant bird cage that you are allowed to walk around in, though some of the larger birds are kept behind glass in their own enclosures, perhaps to avoid small children from being dragged away to their nests for feeding. I have to say it was a very impressive place, and about the perfect size. In addition, Justice got to feed some of the birds by hand (Songhua tricked them into landing in his hand without food). I left with a couple of questions though. First, why is there a three-toed tree sloth in the Aviary? I'm no expert, but they don't look like birds. And more importantly, the most amazing thing about the Aviary was the bird shit, or should I say the absence of it. Where is all the shit?

After the Aviary we went across the street to the Pittsburgh Children's Museum. It is your typical children's museum with hands-on exhibits and a place to play with water. They did have a giant rat cage looking thing (in the picture) that the kids seemed to love and they had a cool exhibit that reproduced the effects of the Mystery Spot (see picture of Justice and Songhua leaning far forward). And it turns out that it just happened to be International Marrionette Day so we got to watch some cool little puppet shows and Justice got to make a dragon puppet from construction paper.

Next, we went to the Andy Warhol Museum (he is from Pittsburgh). Justice got to make some art there and do a screen printing of a dog on a t-shirt. Songhua bought a Campbell's Soup print, and we all got to see a video demonstration of some guy doing paintings with a paint brush in his ass (yes, that is not a typo)--some of which were pretty good given the constraints. Jsutice said "oooohhhh, gross!" I was neither shocked nor impressed.

After that, we needed to go back to the hotel. Instead of walking we took the hotel's shuttle. Swimming! Justice loves to swim, so we spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and hanging out in the hotel. Finally, before bed, Justice demanded we order room service so we ordered some Haggen-Daz ice cream and called it a night.

Overall, the trip was great. We got to see Songhua and the drive was the perfect length. Pittsburgh is a fun town for a couple days. I do not know how much longer we could have spent there though. There were still a few more places we would like to visit (maybe next time), but after that I think we would have exhausted just about everything there is to do there. I would definitely recommend going there to watch a baseball or football game and maybe spending a few days just checking the place out on foot. The town was very quiet, and almost had that eery feel that Detroit has, of a once great city that has been hit hard by a changing economy. There was once over 600,000 people in Pittsburgh, but it is now down to about 300,000. Apparently, it is in some sort of economic revival lately in financials and robotics (Justice was impressed with the robotics stuff), but it hard to tell by the looks of the city.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Where do you live?

Taken from a Boston globe article (By Robert David Sullivan | January 18, 2004)

The 10 regions of US politics

By Robert David Sullivan | January 18, 2004

The regions are based on voting returns from both national and state elections, demographic data from the US Census, and certain geographic features such as mountain ranges and coastlines. Each region represents about one-tenth of the national electorate, casting between 10.4 million and 10.8 million votes in the 2000 presidential election. To win in 2004, a candidate will have to win at least five regions, and preferably six.

Northeast Corridor

The Northeast Corridor begins in Connecticut's Fairfield County and stops in Montgomery County, Md., just short of the nation's capital. This is by far the most densely populated region, as well as the most affluent and the best-educated, though its population growth is well behind the national average. Al Gore won 62 percent of the vote here in 2000, the best showing by a Democrat in any region since Lyndon Johnson was on the ballot four decades ago.

Upper Coasts

The Upper Coasts region is anchored in the east by Boston and in the west by San Francisco. It includes several high-tech centers, including Boston's Route 128 and the Microsoft headquarters near Seattle. Upper Coasts is relatively affluent and well-educated, but it is characterized by sluggish population growth, in part because of its relatively high cost of living. The region is arguably more liberal than the Northeast Corridor, but it's less reliably Democratic, partly because third-party candidates do relatively well here.

The Farm Belt

The Farm Belt region begins in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and includes the city of Cincinnati, noted for its vigorous enforcement of obscenity laws. In the West, it extends to Dodge City, Kan., the setting for TV's "Gunsmoke." The Farm Belt has the smallest nonwhite population of any region, and it ranks first in the number of adults who have finished high school but have gone no further in their education. It is the only solidly Republican region with lower-than-average population growth.

Big River

The Big River region, which follows the Mississippi from northern Minnesota to Memphis, includes such touchstones of nostalgia as Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal, Mo., and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. It has unusually low numbers of both high-school dropouts and post-graduate degree holders. Big River has been the most closely contested region in presidential politics over the past 30 years, and the only one never to give either party more than 55 percent during this period.


Democratic consultant James Carville described Pennsylvania as consisting of Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and "Alabama in the middle." Accordingly, the Appalachia region follows the mountain range from Pennsylvania to Mississippi. It is the most rural and most impoverished region, but it keeps pace with the national average in terms of population growth, and it shows signs of economic progress. Appalachia swung dramatically toward the GOP in 1980 and hasn't looked back since.


This region is named after the Sagebrush Rebellion of the late 1970s, which was fueled by resentment toward the federal bureaucracy. Occupying about half the land area of the United States, it includes parts of 17 states. Most are in the West, but the region also includes libertarian-minded parts of New Hampshire and Maine. It is the fastest growing region, and in 2000 it was Gore's worst region -- but it was only Bush's third-best, thanks to a relatively high vote for third-party candidates.

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes region takes in the major urban centers along those bodies of water and also dips into Pennsylvania to include the city of Pittsburgh. While its biggest city, Chicago, has been relatively stable in population, sharp declines in Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit mean that even Democratic candidates must hunt for votes far from urban centers. Fortunately for the Democrats, the big suburban counties have been trending their way.

Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort follows the Gulf Coast from Fort Myers, Fla., west to Houston. It also reaches as far north as Branson, Mo. This is the second-fastest growing of all 10 regions, but it's close to the national average in terms of income and education. Fifty years ago, this area would have been part of the "Solid South" dominated by the Democratic Party. Since then, both native conservatives and "snow birds" moving here from northern states have made it the most Republican region in the country.

Southern Lowlands

Southern Lowlands begins in Prince George's County, Md., and ends on the banks of the Mississippi River in Louisiana. It has the largest percentage of African Americans among the 10 regions, but that reliably Democratic voting group is matched here by some of the most Republican counties in the United States. The region is near the middle of the pack in terms of income and education, and it boasts healthy population growth. It has moved toward the GOP in recent years, but it's still a swing region overall.

El Norte

El Norte is the youngest and most Hispanic of the 10 regions, ranking first in the percentage of its population who are between the ages of 18 and 35. The region starts in San Jose, Calif., heads toward Mexico, then hugs the border all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. El Norte also includes Denver, Las Vegas, and Miami. While Gore carried the region overall in 2000, it is not uniformly Democratic, and mostly Hispanic districts in Florida and Texas have recently sent conservative Republicans to Congress.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Why we must vote for Obama

Come on guys...Obama is the best chance we have to take back the White House. Putting aside my own personal interests, the best thing for the Democratic party will be to select Obama as their candidate. I do not think Hillary can win. Indeed, I think she will almost ensure a McCain victory (unless people finally realize the "surge" in Iraq is not a real thing). The problem with Hillary is that she relies too heavily on traditional Democrats. As it stands, there are very few districts that really decide a presidential election. For the most part, they almost always vote the same way. So what happens every election is that it comes down to a few key districts that decide who the next president will be. The great thing about Obama is that he disrupts a lot of these "swing" districts in ways that tend to favor him. If you look at the exit polls and results from the primaries, Obama is pulling in a record number of votes in districts that are not traditionally Democratic voting districts (Northern Nevada and Idaho, for example). And not only is he doing that, but he is mobilizing a HUGE portion of the "independent" voters and people who have not traditionally voted. All one needs to do is look at the incredible turnouts and the fact that blacks are voting at record highs. Combined, all of these things contribute to a perfect strategy for beating the Republicans--especially a McCain who is going to get a lot of the independents. More importantly, if McCain runs a "good" campaign, it will not be hard to demonize Hillary and bring up old emotions surrounding the Clintons. If Obama could easily do it, believe me, the Republicans will have no problem. And if that happens, McCain will have no problem winning the White House which is the last thing we want (He is a militaristic, moron who among other things will send us into so much debt we will never recover). So, there are only two options: 1) Obama has to win the candidacy; 2) there must be a Hillary/Obama ticket in the end. Otherwise, 4 more years of stupidity.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Adventures of Drake and Dobblefox--from Justice

A story:

Adventures of Drake and Dobblefox
By Justice Balabuszko

Drake and Dobblefox were walking in the woods. Suddenly they stopped at a path of footprints. They followed it and it led to some foxes and dragons. Then they played together, and then they all wanted to play tag, and then they all wanted to play I Spy.

The End.