Not all suburbs want to appear on reality TV shows: the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park and the local school district don’t want MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” to film there.
MTV’s controversial show “16 and Pregnant” is unwelcome in Tinley Park, as village officials and school leaders have pushed back against possible filming in the community.
When Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki heard the show might be shooting at the 80th Avenue train station’s restaurant, he sent word to the owner of Parmesans Station that the show’s cameras would be unwelcome on Tinley property…
Officials at Andrew High School declined this summer to allow MTV’s cameras on campus, principal Bob Nolting said…
When he was approached about filming at his restaurant, Papandrea said he had the same initial reaction as Zabrocki.
But he changed his mind after giving the matter further consideration, reasoning that the show has a positive effect on teenage pregnancies, he said…
For Zabrocki, who worked for many years as a guidance counselor at Brother Rice High School, the show presents “a bad image.”
Suburbs are often conscious about their image and it sounds like the suburb and school district didn’t want to be viewed as promoting teen pregnancy. Instead, I’m sure they would rather their community and schools are viewed as having a good quality of life, meaning they are the sort of places where teen girls don’t get pregnant. Of course, not all teen pregnancies happen to low-income residents but that seems to be the perception that Tinley Park does not want to invite.
There are wealthy buildings and then there are ultra-wealthy buildings like this new condo tower in Miami:
Twenty-two billionaires—just shy of two percent of the world’s total—have purchased units in a condominium tower being built in Sunny Isles Beach, a small city in Miami-Dade County. The 60-story Porsche Design Tower features the normal super-rich perks, including units as large as 17,000 square feet, and swimming pool- and kitchen-equipped balconies as large as 1,600 square feet.
But the real draw is hinted at in the name: The Porsche Design Tower features three car elevators that will take residents and their rides directly to their units, where they can park their car in a glass garage adjoined to their residences (two-car garages for the “cheaper” units, four-car garages for the pricier ones). This feature allows car-obsessives to stare at their super expensive cars from their high-rise living rooms.
The tower, which broke ground in April 2013 and secured a massive construction loan in October, is the brainchild of car enthusiast and condo magnate Gil Dezer and Germany’s Porsche Design Group. As of mid-October, Dezer had sold almost 100 of the tower’s 132 units, the prices for which range from $4.2 million to $32 million. He reportedly spent part of November selling the remaining units at a gathering for Bugatti owners. There will be 284 robotic parking spaces in all. This is automated parking taken to the next level.
I know most of the buyers would rather not reveal that they live in this building but doesn’t this lift the profile of a new building?
The car elevator is pretty cool but I would also be interested in seeing how exactly this building interacts with the surrounding area. If you have this many wealthy residents, you don’t want normal people walking up or being anywhere near. Indeed, how could you construct entry and exit points so that people can’t simply wait for the wealthy to drive in and out? Leaving the transportation to cars leads to possible problems – and flying helicopters off the top of the building would help.
I can only imagine what the security will be here…
In the 1990s, a professor at a medical university in Stockholm decided to test his students’ knowledge about the progress of global development. He was staggered to discover the class, some of the brightest people in Sweden, scored fewer than two out of five on average…
That academic was Hans Rosling, Professor of Global Health at the Karolinska Institutet and a medical doctor who had carried out decades of research in Africa, discovering the complexities of the continent (and a new disease) along the way…
Rosling has been on a mission to inform since the realization that his students — and his fellow professors — were somewhat woefully informed about the state of the world. Today CNN publishes Rosling’s latest survey of the United States which shows Americans, like most of the world, are far behind the reality in their understanding of world development but ahead of some — for example, Swedes…
In 2005, he co-founded the Gapminder Foundation, which aims to “promote a fact-based world view.” The following year, Rosling spoke at a conference run by TED — the non profit organization “devoted to ideas worth spreading.”…
Rosling realized the concept of “developed” and “developing” countries was hindering understanding of the emerging world, giving an impression of remaining homogeneity of a so-called “developing world”.
Nothing that an introduction to sociology course couldn’t help.
While Rosling wants to focus on facts (and there are some improving figures in the global fight against some major problems), I wonder if it isn’t also about getting people in the developed world to pay attention to the bigger picture. To be honest, many Americans, residents of Sweden, and people in other first-world countries don’t always have to know or consider what is going on in the rest of the world. For example, American media discussion of foreign countries is often pretty woeful and often presents a very American perspective. It is a luxury of being in a wealthier nation as your life is in decent shape (in global comparison).
For starters, consider that there is not a single self-described atheist in Congress today. Not one. It wasn’t until 2007 that Rep. Pete Stark, a Democrat from Northern California, became the first member of Congress and the highest-ranking public official ever to admit to being an atheist. (And even he framed it in terms of religious affiliation, calling himself “a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being.”) Stark was elected twice after this, but when the 20-term congressman lost his seat last year, it was to a 31-year-old primary challenger who attacked him as irreligious, citing, among other things, Stark’s vote against our national motto: “In God We Trust.”
Indeed, the same year that Stark came out, the Secular Coalition of America was able to identify only five atheist public officials in the entire United States. After Stark and a Nebraska state senator, the third-highest ranking atheist was a school-board president from Berkeley, Calif.—this despite the fact that, according to a 2012 Pew report, 6 percent of Americans say they don’t believe in a higher power. That leaves at least 15 million Americans without any elected officials to represent their point of view. Basically, atheism is still as close as it gets to political poison in American electoral politics: A recent Gallup poll found (once again) that atheists are the least electable among several underrepresented groups. Sixty-eight percent of Americans would vote for a well-qualified gay or lesbian candidate, for example, but only 54 percent would vote for a well-qualified atheist. Seven state constitutions even still include provisions prohibiting atheists from holding office (though they are not enforced). One of those is liberal Maryland, which also has a clause that says, essentially, that non-believers can be disqualified from serving as jurors or witnesses…
The Cold War changed all that. Atheism began to seem almost treasonous amid tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, because the Soviets were officially and emphatically against religion. Sen. Joseph McCarthy famously used the phrase “godless communists” to bash the political left and others he considered his enemies. In this context, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed laws in the mid-1950s inserting “God” into our Pledge of Allegiance and putting it on all our money. (It had been on most coins earlier, but Eisenhower made “In God We Trust” our national motto, henceforth to appear on all bills.)…
In fact, the fastest-growing religious category in the United States is what are called the “nones”—people who say they have no religious affiliation. One-fifth of Americans are in this group today, according to Pew Research Center polling. Among adults under age 30, a full third count themselves as religiously unaffiliated. Some of them believe in a god or gods; some do not. They are not going to want to be pushed around by any sect one way or another, and as their numbers increase, they won’t have to allow it.
Surveys consistently show Americans are more opposed to atheists than other groups (such as voting for President) even as organized religiosity declines and atheists look to form megachurches. Read more of the Pew report on religious nones which suggests the numbers are growing even as some still have more traditional religious beliefs and practices.
Check out this infographic from the New York Film Academy on gender inequality in American films. A few of the facts involved:
-”Women purchase half of the movie tickets sold in the U.S.” but “28.8% of women wore sexually revealing clothes as opposed to 7.0% of men” in the top 500 films from 2007 to 20012 and the “average ratio of male actors to females is 2.25:1″ in these same films.
-The number of men and women working behind the scene in major roles of the top 250 films of 2012 is pretty unequal: women are 9% of directors, 15% of writers, 17% of executive producers, 25% of producers, 20% of editors, and 2% of cinematographers.
-”Forbes 2013 list of the top ten highest paid actresses made a collective $181 million versus $465 million made by the top ten male actors” and “In 2013 the highest paid female actor, Angelina Jolie, made $33 million, roughly the same amount as the two lowest-ranked men. Furthermore, age appears to be a dominant factor in an actress’s monetary success compared to men.”
So much for progressive Hollywood? The infographic also suggests the depth of the inequality goes beyond just star actors and actresses; it applies to numerous important roles and how characters are regularly portrayed.
Another aspect of this is to think about using infographics for social activism. In one big graphic, this group has presented a lot of data regarding gender in American films. Is it more effective to present the data in (1) a splashy way – infographics are hot these days and (2) to overwhelm people with data?
New survey data looks at new rich Americans who draw a lot of attention from companies and who might have outsized political influence:
Fully 20 percent of U.S. adults become rich for parts of their lives, wielding outsize influence on America’s economy and politics. This little-known group may pose the biggest barrier to reducing the nation’s income inequality…
Made up largely of older professionals, working married couples and more educated singles, the new rich are those with household income of $250,000 or more at some point during their working lives. That puts them, if sometimes temporarily, in the top 2 percent of earners…
Companies increasingly are marketing to this rising demographic, fueling a surge of “mass luxury” products and services from premium Starbucks coffee and organic groceries to concierge medicine and VIP lanes at airports. Political parties are taking a renewed look at the up-for-grabs group, once solidly Republican…
In a country where poverty is at a record high, today’s new rich are notable for their sense of economic fragility. They’ve reached the top 2 percent, only to fall below it, in many cases. That makes them much more fiscally conservative than other Americans, polling suggests, and less likely to support public programs, such as food stamps or early public education, to help the disadvantaged…
As the fastest-growing group based on take-home pay, the new rich tend to enjoy better schools, employment and gated communities, making it easier to pass on their privilege to their children…
Sometimes referred to by marketers as the “mass affluent,” the new rich make up roughly 25 million U.S. households and account for nearly 40 percent of total U.S. consumer spending.
This sounds like a group that would call themselves upper middle-class: wealthy enough to enjoy some luxuries and good things for their kids but not wealthy enough to truly compete with the millionaires and CEOs. They resent the idea that they are rich as they think middle-class values, such as hard work and providing for their kids, helped them arrive at their current position.
Yet, when the median household income in the United States is around $50,000 it is hard not see this group as wealthy. To some degree, it is all relative: the mass affluent might not be able to consistently live the high life in Manhattan or San Francisco but they could do really well in cheaper places like the Midwest or Atlanta or Dallas. Perhaps it is the perceived fragility that matters most: losing their job might be enough to move them down back near the median income, though unemployment rates are much lower for the educated and well-trained.
A few questions after reading this article:
1. How big should this group be in the United States?
2. Long-term, which party will capture these voters?
3. Will this group get a lot of negative attention as they are more accessible than the ultra-wealthy who can live more cloistered lives?
The 1984 version is a classic and there is now an updated version of A Field Guide to American Houses:
Architecture buffs, decorators, historians and anyone who studies the built environment will have Virginia Savage McAlester’s encyclopedic update of her 1984 book “A Field Guide to American Houses,” (Alfred A Knopf, 2013) on their wish lists.
For example: For those who think “prairie palace” and “McMansion” are merely envious epithets for “house bigger than mine,” the author explores the 1980s birth of the Millenium Mansion style and explores the reasons for the wide criticisms (“These complicated roofs can be thought of as crowns, or, more satirically, as the Future Roofers of America Relief Act.”)
For fans of modern ranches, Savage McAlester breaks them down into submovements with different roots. For lovers of historic homes, this is a rich trove of not just details, but reasons for them.
And for those seeking a homeplace that makes sense, the new chapter on neighborhoods is nothing less than essential.
It is hard to find another source that combines the technical features of different styles of American housing architecture as well as good summaries of each architectural movement.It can be hard to keep track of all the different exterior parts that are associated with different architectural styles – keeping your Italianate from your Georgian to your Colonial straight – and this book has helpful diagrams and descriptions.
I’m looking forward to seeing the section on McMansions. If I remember correctly, the 1984 version had a section on more postmodern or eclectic housing styles and McMansions would have likely fallen into that category. But, a reference book like this has the ability to shape understandings of McMansions for years to come.
This talk by a sociologist about It’s A Wonderful Life serves as a reminder that the film provides a nice window into modern American life. Although it is a holiday movie, here are a few sociological ideas that still resonate today:
1. Mr. Potter is the evil banker and the primary villain. While hero George Bailey just wants to help his family and others in the community, the banker only cares about money. Could be connected to discussions of inequality, the wealth of bankers, and the role of the finance industry in helping to build communities.
2. Hero George Bailey wants to build suburban-like homes in a new subdivision in his community. The movie came out at the beginning of the post-World War II suburban boom and anticipates that many Americans simply want a home of their own.
3. The movie is set in a relatively small town where George Bailey and his family can know lots of people. Even as Americans look to private single-family homes, there is still often a small-town ideal where everyone gets along and helps each other (and often the assumption that we have lost this over time).
4. George Bailey seeks meaning in his work and life. When he doesn’t find it, he considers suicide. Bailey wants to provide for his family and friends and struggles when he cannot do this.
5. George’s life is saved by an angel. Americans tend to like angels even as more Americans say they are not religious. Angels fit with a spirituality where God generally wants people to succeed.
6. The celebratory ending of the film comes as George is surrounded by his family and friends. The emphasis on family life is not unusual in American stories but this also highlights the small town coming together. Bailey has the American Dream at the end: a home, a loving family, helpful friends, and is optimistic about his future.
Of course, this film has been analyzed plenty as a classic sitting at #20 on the AFI’s top 100 movies. Yet, it is an important moment as America started seeing itself as the prosperous superpower.
Enter Barbara Jones. The Needham contractor launched Little Pink Houses a couple years ago to provide an alternative to homeowners who want to sell but aren’t keen to see all their memories bulldozed away to make way for some cold, grotesquely large, and soulless box.
Jones’s aim is to hit the $600,000 to $800,000 end of the market in Needham, where listings are comparatively scarce, while saving some of the town’s graceful older homes from the wrecking ball…
My goal on my houses is to keep the original footprint but to update the entire inside to provide a “brand new” old house for the buyer. Staying within the existing footprint enables the end price to be well below the $1million+ price tag that is becoming the norm here in Needham.
I want to preserve the older homes and keep the charming feel of our 300-year-old town while providing homes in the price range that is becoming increasingly rare: $600k – $800.
The number of people who have expressed their gratitude to me around the preserving of my home has been overwhelming. I credit the woman we purchased my home from. She had multiple offers from builders who wanted to buy the 4 acres my home sits on and turn it into a development. We are thankful that she “waited” for us to come along.
The steady march of McMansions requires that good citizens do nothing – or something like that. Two things strike me by this particular approach:
1. It is still not cheap to preserve these older homes. The average homeowner in Needham might be able to make more money by selling the home and lot to someone who desires a teardown and can pay more. In many places, it might be difficult for owners to take less simply to preserve the houses.
2. It sounds like the older homes are completely renovated inside. So while the exterior appears old, the new buyer gets all the modern conveniences they might expect in a new home. It seems a bit strange that older homes might only be attractive to buyers if they basically look like new homes on the inside. Yes, these older homes may not have been turned into McMansions but this might have been the goal with the interiors.
All together, it can be quite a bit of work to preserve older homes and it requires willing sellers, buyers, and neighbors. It would be interesting to then find out whether it is “easier” to have teardowns and McMansions rather than organize to keep older homes that enough buyers still want.
Benson explains that though many people may think that squirrels have simply persisted in urban landscapes since Europeans arrived in the U.S., their presence is actually the result of intentional introductions.
“By the mid-19th century, squirrels had been eradicated from cities,” he said. “In order to end up with squirrels in the middle of cities, you had to transform the urban landscape by planting trees and building parks and changing the way that people behave. People had to stop shooting squirrels and start feeding them.”
In researching the history of squirrels in American cities, Benson found the first documented introduction occurred in Philadelphia’s Franklin Square in 1847. Other introductions followed in Boston and New Haven in the 1850s. These early releases were small in scale, and intended to “beautify and add interest to the parks,” Benson says…
Benson also found signs in his research that squirrels played another important role for city residents, particularly children: as moral educators.
“Feeding squirrels becomes adopted as a way of encouraging humane behavior,” Benson said…
By the time the environmental movement took hold in the 1960s and 1970s, Benson argued, squirrels in the urban environment were no longer widely seen as morally significant members of the community and instead began to be viewed with a more ecological mindset. Ideas of letting them live out life “as nature intended” took a stronger hold.
In other words, Americans have been influencing the habitats and behaviors of squirrels for over a century and a half. It is interesting to see the progression from wanting to have more squirrels and nature (within a particular urban vision of parks), to feeding squirrels, to taking a more hands-off approach. What how will humans interact with squirrels in a few decades?
One of the stranger places for human-squirrel interactions is the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Squirrels are regularly seen outside the dining halls with large pieces of food, like muffins or cookies. Some of these squirrels were also quite large which appeared to hamper their running abilities. I have no doubt that students or visitors occasionally fed the squirrels. See some examples at the Squirrels of Notre Dame Facebook page or this 2011 column from the student newspaper on how the squirrels are viewed (hint: the title is “Reasons we love squirrels”).