Plan B: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Since I began this adventure, my mother has been urging me towards Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I still have relatives and where, apparently, the cost of living is lower. I have explained to her (and she should already know because she’s read the book) that Pittsburgh is on the frontier between Colin Woodard’s Midlands and Greater Appalachia, the latter likely being the source of authoritarian populism. I think either she doesn’t really buy Colin Woodard’s sociocultural analysis of Yankeedom as being more civically engaged and scholarly-oriented[1] or that she doesn’t think the difference between Yankeedom and the Midlands will be that great (figure 1).

upinarms-map-large
Fig. 1. Colin Woodard’s sociocultural regions.[2]

And, to be honest, she may have a point: While Woodard’s history is—to say the very least—illuminating, he may essentialize geographic areas in his description of sociocultural regions; his regional archetypes and sharply drawn boundaries (apparently along county lines) all lack nuance. His description of Yankeedom covers an area mainly from New England to the eastern edge of the Dakotas,[3] some of which has looked rather authoritarian populist lately. Authoritarian populism is probably the most anti-intellectual conservative tendency—even more so than social conservatism or paleoconservatism (the other tendencies in Donald Trump’s oh so very precious base).

So now that I’ve fallen flat on my face in western Massachusetts, she’s gotten involved with the apartment hunt and things are distinctly looking up. I already have two appointments for Wednesday in the Pittsburgh area (with a third expected to contact me Monday).

Understand that the point I made yesterday about barriers to housing that affect the poor, especially the homeless, still applies.[4] But my Mom is not poor—to the extent our lives can be compared, she successfully changed careers while I never really found one I both wanted and could succeed in. She succeeded in developing that career, and though she was a newspaper reporter to the end of her career, she managed to buy a house, save some money, and maximize her pensions. Her involvement in my apartment search quite literally makes all the difference and if I didn’t have her, I’d probably have been homeless for the last ten years (I moved back in with her in December 2008 while I was finishing my M.A. and stayed there throughout my Ph.D. work and since).


I am still not yet caught up on the news. But my eyes are glazing over. Good night.


The Megalithic

Michael Price, “Were Europe’s megalithic societies patrilineal?” Science, April 15, 2019, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/were-europe-s-megalithic-societies-patrilineal


Prison Guards

Philip Zimbardo might be feeling a bit of vindication about now.

Allyson Chiu, “‘Feeling cute, might just gas some inmates today’: Corrections officers face backlash over social media challenge,” Washington Post, April 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/04/17/feeling-cute-might-just-gas-some-inmates-today-corrections-officers-face-backlash-over-social-media-challenge/


Subprime Lending

Ben Lane, “No-income, no-asset mortgages are back (at one lender, at least),” Housing Wire, April 16, 2019, https://www.housingwire.com/articles/48810-no-income-no-asset-mortgages-are-back-at-one-lender-at-least


North Korea

Timothy W. Martin and Dasl Yoon, “North Korea Says It Test-Fired New Tactical Guided Weapon,” Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kim-jong-un-sends-message-to-trump-with-military-visit-11555497814


Yemen

Simon Tisdall, “Trump’s veto over Yemen is a scandalous abuse of presidential power,” Guardian, April 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/17/donald-trump-yemen-veto-war-saudi-arabia-scandalous-abuse


San Francisco

Dan Kopf, “San Francisco’s Diversity Numbers Are Looking More and More Like a Tech Company’s,” Atlantic, April 19, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/04/san-francisco-city-apps-built-or-destroyed/587389/


Julian Assange

Kevin Gosztola, “FBI affidavit in Assange case Shows government is criminalizing publication of Afghanistan war logs,” Shadowproof, April 16, 2019, https://shadowproof.com/2019/04/16/fbi-affidavit-in-assange-case-shows-government-is-criminalizing-publication-of-afghanistan-war-logs/


  1. [1]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  2. [2]I regret that due to my move, at this writing, I do not have access to track down where I found this map. I believe it was in an online article that pointed me to the book by Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011) wherein, as I recall, a similar map appears.
  3. [3]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  4. [4]David Benfell, “If you don’t like homelessness, here’s an idea: Make it possible to rent an apartment,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/04/19/if-you-dont-like-homelessness-heres-an-idea-make-it-possible-to-rent-an-apartment/

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