June 27, 2013

Generational support for gay deviance and the breakdown of norms

From the most recent General Social Survey of 2012, looking just at whites, here's the percent who strongly agree that homos should be allowed to marry, by 5-year cohorts:


Generally the later you were born, the more you support it, but the effect is weak for those born before 1985. The upward slope is pretty shallow. Most of the effect is due to the huge jump for those born in '85 and after.

Here's the same graph for those who think homosexual sex is always wrong:


The later you were born, the less disapproving you are, though again notice a much sharper drop among those born after '84.

So what did all of that helicopter parenting and self-esteem inflation do for the minds of Millennials? Helicopter parenting socially isolated them from their peers, and broke them apart from community rituals that would have made them feel a sense of belonging (e.g., canceling trick-or-treating). Lack of social integration during their developing years has blunted their appreciation for group norms that apply above the level of the nuclear family. And all of that self-esteem bullshit gave them a "don't judge me" and "if you got it, flaunt it" mindset.

How else did you expect them to view a community-disrupting bunch of mental fuck-ups? They're natural heroes to the sheltered airhead generation.

The utterly pathetic way that the Millennials have turned out is a damning indictment of this whole "family values" revolution of the past 20 years. In practice, it has meant locking your nuclear family away from all other influences, and only relating to other close kin members. Raising your kids to feel disconnected from, suspicious of, or downright hostile toward non-familial community members. That's even more angering than stunting your own kids' growth -- fragmenting the community because of overblown paranoia, laughably covered up with the fig leaf of "family values."

And to those who unfortunately live in the few parts of the country that have been over-run by NAMs -- your problems won't go away by moving to an all-white area. Go to Alaska, Utah, Vermont, or to an all-white upper-middle-class suburb, and you still won't find any trick-or-treaters on Halloween, or teenagers who overwhelmingly look at faggots with either pity or disgust, and who should stay in the closet.

The only cohort that can feel good about themselves for bucking the overall trend is Gen Y. People born in the first half of the '80s show a noticeable dip in support for gay marriage, when you'd expect it to be a little higher than the late Gen X-ers. That shows up in the "homo sex is wrong" graph too, where we're joined by the last Gen X cohort in being noticeably less supportive of the great gay crusade than our age / birth year would lead you to expect.

Does that make more of a difference than the absolute level of support? When it comes to standing up to all these attacks on communal norms -- yes. Baby Boomers may be even less supportive than we are, but that's to be expected from their place in the series of cohorts. They don't feel particularly strongly about the issue. Gen Y is unusually cold toward queers, and that gives us an against-the-grain motivation that is lacking in the Boomers, or even most of the X-ers. Although X-ers do feel consciously more conservative than Boomers overall, it doesn't show on this specific issue.

And as X-ers get deeper and deeper into their child-rearing years, and as they continue the pattern of helicopter parenting, they'll find it increasingly difficult to explain to their kids about communal norms. "What community, mommy -- the one you've locked me away from my whole life?" And of course explaining doesn't do anything, it's the experience of belonging to a larger group and being subject to its pressures that inculcates the intuitive understanding of the value of group norms -- otherwise all of those enjoyable, rewarding group experiences never could have taken place.

After awhile, it's too late to reverse course. When your kid starts high school, his language is basically frozen in place. He'll have to devote long hours of practice to learning another one. His "formative years" are not called that for no reason.

I think that's behind Gen Y being unusually conservative, whether for overall self-identifying political views or for the queer issue in particular. The '80s and even the very early '90s were the peak of community togetherness, no matter what community you lived in. And since our parents let us run our own social lives once we were out of pre-school, we got steeped in the social environment from very early on.

And not only the social environment, but the physical environment -- whether natural or man-made -- that provides the basis for your sense of belonging to a particular place, aside from belonging to a people. How can you feel close to your land when you aren't allowed to climb the tree in your back yard, hike off to the nearby woods, visit the mall, hang out at the pool, and explore the streets of your neighborhood? And by yourself or with your equally inexperienced peers, so you can feel a sense of wonder and not have everything explained to you by parents, let alone have your process of discovery cut short by their meddling.

In fact, some of the strongest memories I have that bind me to the neighborhood where I grew up are not exploring the streets along the sidewalk, but the places in people's front yards and back yards that we used to wander all over. If our parents had been there, they might have told us to get out from behind the neighbor's hedge -- but hey, that was the best place to ambush someone during a game of war.

And we used to cut across three or four neighbors' back yards at a time. Again, something that our parents would probably have told us not to do, but which gave us the sense of belonging to a more intimate or private side of that family's space. Not like we were doing property damage or anything. Just seeing a side of that family that you ordinarily wouldn't. What's the harm in a little trespassing if you wind up feeling closer to the people who live there?

...But enough reminiscing. The point is that the '80s and early '90s saw the peak of this kind of upbringing, and it's had a lasting effect on those who were in their formative years -- not helpless or house-bound infants and toddlers, but kids. Our sometimes overly nostalgic generation feels the closest bonds to the people and places where we grew up, and feel like it's a desecration to shove those aside for pointless progress, which only destabilizes the glue that held that world together -- norms, customs, styles of interacting, and so on.

To provide a concrete historical case that should give Gen Y some hope -- consider the fate of second-wave feminism, i.e. the Gloria Steinem movement of the early-to-mid-1970s. That was almost entirely a movement for sheltered airhead Silent Gen members. Two women helped to kill it off from mainstream acceptance, one from the liberal and one from the conservative direction -- Betty Friedan, who attacked it as too lesbian-oriented and too radically beyond women getting jobs and getting paid, and Phyllis Schlafy, who spearheaded the movement that stopped the ERA dead in its tracks. (That's the Equal Rights Amendment.)

Both were born in the first half of the 1920s, so in relation to the trend in the crime rate, they were like those born in the first half of the '80s. The Roaring Twenties was well before all that Dr. Spock bullshit from mid-century childhoods, and the Go-Go Eighties was well after its heyday (and before its recent revival). Growing up in such unsupervised and un-Taylorized times gave those generations the autonomy to explore all of the people and places of their community, and to feel viscerally bonded to them in a way that logical explanation without immediate experience is impotent to achieve.

It takes that deep level of belonging -- and the later profound sense of alienation when the norms degrade -- to motivate people to stop fucking around and confront the norm-destroyers head-on.

If the children of the '20s could derail wacko feminism off into total marginalization, there's no reason that the children of the '80s won't be able to restore some sanity to society after the gay deviance crusade.

GSS variables: marhomo, homosex, cohort, race, year

26 comments:

  1. To show just how far the Supremes are outside of the mainstream, consider that they are bunch of oldies on the far left of the graph and judging by their ages (and the fact that only three of the nine are women) you would expect (by random sampling) only one of them would see fit to stomp hard on the scales and replace the democratic process on an institution almost as old as civilization itself.

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  2. Anonymous8:50 AM

    Hi,

    I stumbled upon your website the other day (via CH), and I must say that it has struck me over the head like a hammer.

    You and I are very similar: born late 70s ('79 for me), attended public high school, grew up with 90's music.

    I've felt like an old man the last 10 years, constantly complaining how shitty movies and music have gotten (TV has definitely improved...remember TGIF?).

    My biggest issue is the lack of feeling like part of a community. Growing up in a suburb in Upstate NY, we could bicycle whereever we wanted, cross our neighbhors' yards, go outside and play until dusk w/o mom and dad watching us. I didn't realize that the tradition of getting dressed up and going out for Halloween (I started doing Halloween with my sister unescorted once I was 8).
    This depresses me.

    My parents used to go out on dates and leave me and my sister at home (beginning when I was 9). We'd watch Married with Children and America's Most Wanted (Fox had just launched).

    The lack of trust in everything is mind-boggling. It makes me not want to be a part of this culture anymore. I don't have children yet, but I've always desired to raise my kids in another country where the paranoia associated with child-rearing is not as stiffling. Western Europe perhaps?

    My boss just told me that none of his children can read a standard clock. I guess that clocks in high schools are primarily digital nowadays, thus kids can't decipher the hour and minute hands on a standard clock. WTF is going on??! Am I taking crazy pills?

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  3. I really wonder what the hell will happen when all these youngsters go through their prime childbearing years. Will birthrates plummet? White birthrates did plummet dramatically (from 3+ per woman to 1.5 per woman, an all-time American low) when the hippies/boomers went through their childbearing years, so it is not unprecedented.

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  4. What are the boundaries for Generation Y? Wikipedia says it's those born from the early 80s to early 2000s, most of which would be after 1985.

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  5. In relation to your larger message in this post, something just occurred to me. My church had a large young adult (23-30) community when I started attending a few years back, but a couple of years after I started it dissolved fairly quickly. Since I was born in '83, it would make sense that around 2008, the generation born after '85 started becoming adults and were mostly unable to integrate themselves into the church community. As a result, it fragmented from lack of new members.

    To clarify, it's not that people in their mid-20's don't visit or join anymore, so it's not related to a decline in religiosity. It's just that I hear from various sources that they, "can't find groups within the church where they fit in," without understanding that you're not going to fit in overnight; it happens gradually over time through shared experiences.

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  6. I put Gen Y at like '79 to '84. After Gen X but before Millennials.

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  7. You discussed Titian earlier. A short film was made last year for a museum presentation on Titian's Diana paintings. It's film rather than painting, and there's some use of color contrasts, but not nearly as much as the paintings.

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  8. "I really wonder what the hell will happen when all these youngsters go through their prime childbearing years."

    At least they'll change the mainstream parenting style. Parents raising kids in the '60s and '70s loosened up, and they were mostly Silent Gen parents. Then you have the early and middle Boomers who also raised unsupervised kids.

    It's not until the late Boomers that helicopter parenting begins (with newborns in the later '80s).

    Parentes tend to raise their kids the opposite of how they were raised themselves. Not necessarily because of some strong reactive mechanism, but just because that's how long these cycles last. They're more responding to the zeitgeist than saying "I was raised one way, but my kids should be raised the opposite way."

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  9. "It's just that I hear from various sources that they, "can't find groups within the church where they fit in," without understanding that you're not going to fit in overnight; it happens gradually over time through shared experiences."

    That's one of the most pervasive fears and retardations about Millennials -- they expect instant results. That comes from their helicopter parents sheltering them.

    In the nuclear family, you get what you want pretty fast or not at all. That's how it works in unequal relationships between a supervisor and the supervised. To keep their authority, the supervisor wants to make a quick decision, whether based on rules or coming from an on-the-spot judgement call, rather than drag it out in negotiations, which serves to erode their power long-term. And in that narrow little part of the world, that's OK.

    But in a nuclear family, there's very little give-and-take among equals that develops over the long course of a "relationship" -- even if that's something as simple as making friends on the playground who you don't hang out with after school.

    Your only equals or peers in the family are siblings. But they're too few in number to overwhelm you and make you act normal rather than self-centered, vs. dozens of kids at your school who will pressure you (physically or otherwise) into taking others into consideration, not just your bratty little self.

    Plus Hamilton's Rule means that all family, both supervisors and equals, will tolerate all kinds of crap that a genetic stranger would not, further weakening the socialization potential of family life.

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  10. "My parents used to go out on dates and leave me and my sister at home (beginning when I was 9)."

    Yeah, either alone or even better -- with a teenage babysitter. No one trusts anyone anymore, though, so babysitters have vanished from normal childhoods.

    I wrote a post about that a few years ago... if you're a first-time reader, I've been covering these topics for probably 4 years now. The tags on posts go back maybe a year, but if you search for any topic about how things have changed, I'm sure you'll find something. It's hard to think of things I haven't covered... not really economics, class, inequality, etc. That's a separate can of worms.

    "My boss just told me that none of his children can read a standard clock."

    Or sign their names in cursive, right?

    "I don't have children yet, but I've always desired to raise my kids in another country where the paranoia associated with child-rearing is not as stiffling. Western Europe perhaps?"

    I don't think other places are that much better. It's more of a zeitgeist thing, not a geography / race thing.

    For example, France was "always" known for chicks going topless on the beach, right? Well, now it's only women in their 40s who do that, continuing what they'd started in the '70s or '80s. Young people have the same "ewww, seriously? like cah-REEPY!" vibe to toplessness that Americans do.

    I hear you about not wanting kids right now because of what kind of environment they'd grow up in. Who would their friends be? Whose house would they sleep over at? Who would they share a paying job with, like a paper route or something? Give a ride to?

    And forget the culture they'd be exposed to -- movies, video games, children's TV, etc.

    They wouldn't get to enjoy normal life growing up, and you'd be totally powerless to do anything about it. It's everyone else's lack of trust and helicopter parenting that's ruined communities, and lots of luck changing that single-handedly when they're not ready to change.

    I will say that it's better in the Mountain Time Zone, if you feel like getting out of a more rotten part of the country. Tucson is one of the few places I've been where there were teenagers riding their bikes, in a social group, at night, with no chaperons. And hanging out at the In-N-Out Burger after 11pm or midnight.

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  11. Anonymous8:07 PM

    I'm strongly in favor of male gays but against lesbians, since to me the gender ratio seems increasingly screwed up, with a vast man surplus in the younger adult demographic.

    This is a worldwide problem, in China and India, and less obviously in the USA.

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  12. Anonymous10:01 AM

    I hear you about not wanting kids right now because of what kind of environment they'd grow up in.

    This is harsh, but shouldn't folks around child bearing age just chill the fuck out and get some skin in the game? What's with all this self conscious obsessing about trying to have perfect kids, and ensuring they have a perfect environment?

    The early Boomers were totally fine with their first 15 years the 40s-50s era. And it's not even gonna be that long if the predicted epicycle is right. Only really bad time to have kids under the theory would be in the late part of an extroverted cycle or early part of an introverted cycle (even then being 30 - 60 in the 60s to 90s doesn't seem that bad).

    This just sounds like one of those helicopter parenting things (obsessive overprotection of the kids), or a late maturity excuse (like I bet popped out during the fertility declines of the rising crime period parts of the Twen Cen - "Why have kids now, in such a dangerous world?").

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  13. No, it's not about having perfect kids but normal ones, developing in a normal environment. Helicopter parents actually don't care much about the broader environment -- their view is that they can program and engineer their kids to turn out the way they want, and insulate them from the larger social forces that might erode their tireless sculpting.

    It's hardly obsessive -- like, you'd have to be blind not to see how socially deprived and isolated your kids are going to be in 2013, how culturally rootless and how emotionally stunted.

    Nor is it over-protection -- again, we'd be hoping for more autonomy for them. But we can't push them out of the nest when there's nowhere to push them to -- because all of those places have been destroyed by the over-protective majority.

    Again, take something as simple as sending your kid off to play at the playground -- there's nothing there to do, and no one to do it with.

    "And it's not even gonna be that long if the predicted epicycle is right."

    Right, no one said we're swearing off kids forever. Just not in the fragmented, anti-social world we live in right now.

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  14. "shouldn't folks around child bearing age just chill the fuck out and get some skin in the game?"

    Well some 22 y.o. Mexican woman who's already shat out 4 hyper little brats has "skin in the game," even more so if she's married to the father.

    But so what? Maintaining communal cohesion and affective bonds, preserving our culture and customs, and so on, is not a matter for nuclear families. There's an above-the-family level of group-mindedness that must prevail. A sense of stewardship, even if it means going against "family values".

    Look at how clueless and suicidal a lot of conservatives have become by emphasizing marriage and children over communal stewardship -- let's import a bunch of Mexicans, or give an anti-social meth-addicted wigger mama extra say because they're Mothers.

    Having too much skin in the game at the nuclear family level prevents skin in the game at the level of neighborhood, community, and nation. We degenerate into "amoral familialism" seen in much of the third world. And that's not just some lazy intellectual analogy, that's precisely where American society has been going the past 20 years.

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  15. But so what? Maintaining communal cohesion and affective bonds, preserving our culture and customs, and so on, is not a matter for nuclear families. There's an above-the-family level of group-mindedness that must prevail. A sense of stewardship, even if it means going against "family values".

    Look at how clueless and suicidal a lot of conservatives have become by emphasizing marriage and children over communal stewardship --...

    Having too much skin in the game at the nuclear family level prevents skin in the game at the level of neighborhood, community, and nation. We degenerate into "amoral familialism" seen in much of the third world. And that's not just some lazy intellectual analogy, that's precisely where American society has been going the past 20 years.


    Great comment.

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  16. "Amoral familism," coined by Edward Banfield:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moral_Basis_of_a_Backward_Society

    Banfield is considered a conservative, but it's like calling Robert Putnam a liberal -- they're old-school, focused on community, cohesion, fulfillment, and transcendence.

    They'd get along better with each other than either would with their 21st-century voter / think tanker counterparts.

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  17. Yglesias doesn't name-check Banfield but his argument about the dystopian nature of societies where familial loyalty (as a subtype of the particularistic) over universal norms as exemplified in the Fast and Furious sounds similar.

    The decline in births seems to be related to more education and urbanization among women. The norm has also shifted toward having a career and away from being a housewife. I've never heard anyone off the internet say the current time is a bad one for kids to grow up in. Their reasons for not having kids are that it would be inconvenient for them, or possibly some stuff about the environment. A friend of mine from India about to get married has said he might adopt a girl from there since life for her there would be so much worse than here.

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  18. Anonymous6:10 PM

    any recent signs that the social environment is changing?

    -Curtis

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  19. "I've never heard anyone off the internet say the current time is a bad one for kids to grow up in."

    It may not be on the front of their mind like it is for me, but if you posed it to them, you'd find a lot of them agreeing.... unless they're the liberal weenie type, including lots of so-called conservatives for whom community, belonging, and meaning mean nothing.

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  20. Anonymous4:43 AM

    Having too much skin in the game at the nuclear family level prevents skin in the game at the level of neighborhood, community, and nation. We degenerate into "amoral familialism" seen in much of the third world.

    Unusual. I thought "amoral familialism" was more to do with extended families and clans (which often overlap with wider local communities in many countries), rather than nuclear families? The normal narrative is of Western countries investing less in extended families and more in nuclear families, compared to the world norm.

    I'm not really talking about placing undue importance on the nuclear family or extended family, rather than community, but more in terms of just having kids and so helping to push the culture in a more youthquakish direction.

    A kid born in 2005 (7 years ago) should be around 15 when the next extraversion cycle changes, so they'd have a pretty good adulthood, being age 15-45 in an good solid extroverted culture.

    They wouldn't spend any of the extroverted times being a kid which would be a bit of a shame, but they'd get be a parent and watch their kids grow during that time, which someone born at the start of an extroverted period wouldn't, and that would be.

    In terms of being emotionally stunted, probably only as much as the early Boomers, who were also predominantly born during the falling violence / version period of 45-64, and early Boomers seem pretty well balanced, successful and happy compared to say Gen X (in terms of their general life course).

    Look at how clueless and suicidal a lot of conservatives have become by emphasizing marriage and children over communal stewardship -- let's import a bunch of Mexicans, or give an anti-social meth-addicted wigger mama extra say because they're Mothers.

    Mexigration doesn't seem much to do with family values. Never noticed present day Conservatives gave anti-social meth-addicted wigger mama's much cred - they might get more of it than a guy like Roissy, a socially nihilist pick up artist singleton who contributes essentially nothing to the community and spends his time on theories which are basically either wrong or socially destructive, but not any decent normal person.

    It's not a question of emphasizing marriage and children over communal stewardship, but a recognition that you need a basic level at least of each one.

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  21. I think most of the people near my own age that I know are of the liberal weenie sort. Likely related to living downtown. The fecund religious types tend to get married and move to the suburbs.

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  22. "The normal narrative is of Western countries investing less in extended families and more in nuclear families, compared to the world norm."

    That's not the whole or most important part of the story. We withdrew investment from extended clans and re-invested it in civic and other communal groups and institutions. We didn't just re-invest it in nuclear families.

    It all comes down to the inability of the nuclear unit to do that much for itself and its members. You need some kind of larger-scale group or institution. Before it was the extended clan, then it became civic and community institutions.

    Now we're moving more toward the East Asian norm of isolated nuclear families, rather than clannishness, but having our super-family structures be faceless gigantic bureaucracies (private or government), rather than neighborhood and community groups.

    "just having kids and so helping to push the culture in a more youthquakish direction."

    Yeah, I hear that part, but even a youthquake won't restore a sense of belonging and community, however much more fun there would be in everyday life.

    "It's not a question of emphasizing marriage and children over communal stewardship, but a recognition that you need a basic level at least of each one."

    Sure, but in the current context, we have waaay too much emphasis on nuclear families, and basically zip on anything larger and more inclusive. Emphasizing family values, fertility, etc., is pushing an open door. Just like how if you want to limit population growth, it doesn't mean you want the society to collapse, but just not get overgrown. Nobody talks about pop growth anymore, so in that context it makes most sense to say you'd like to limit growth, not give additional / superfluous lip service and qualifiers about not wanting the population to shrink into nothing.

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  23. Anonymous3:32 PM

    "Nobody talks about pop growth anymore, so in that context it makes most sense to say you'd like to limit growth, not give additional / superfluous lip service and qualifiers about not wanting the population to shrink into nothing."

    Yeah, and back in the New Wave it seemed it was more about preserving quality of life, as opposed to saving the environment.

    -Curtis

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  24. Now we're moving more toward the East Asian norm of isolated nuclear families, rather than clannishness,

    This is also a great point.

    The isolated nuclear family happens to be what I grew up because frankly my parents didn't particularly care for members of their extended family.

    Based on what they say, the clan was strong when times were difficult. And this was before people could get college degrees and then a corporate bureaucratic job.

    But community and civic groups seem much nicer than extended clans because they seem to require a much higher standard of behavior from their members.


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  25. Jeffrey S.6:25 PM

    First of all, even though I'm a early Gen Xer (I think -- born in 1969) I relate to a lot of this post about growing up. My experiences were similar and you made me nostalgic -- I remember playing war in the neighbors backyards!

    Secondly, it's not totally hopeless in this country -- there are "old school" pockets of neighborhood life where community is still valued. I actually live in Chicago, in a far northwest side neighborhood that is close to the border of the suburbs and has a lot of characteristics of the suburbs. I let my 13-year old daughter roam around the neighborhood during the day with her friends (and even at night in the summer while it is still light out). There are block parties (my other daughter, who is 10, slept over at a friend so she could go to the friend's block party), there is an active community organizationt that will sponsor the 4th of July parade on Thursday, there are active churches (Catholic and Lutheran -- the gay-loving Episcopalians have a church that looks like it is going to close down soon!), etc.

    There is even a County-run pool that's not bad, although I admit so far I've gone with the girls as a chaparone...

    I love my neighborhood and feel very connected to the place -- not just my family.

    TGGP -- we need to get together again soon -- maybe this 4th of July weekend (I'll have you come to the 'hood). Dusk in Autumn is bring the Chicago conservatives and reactionaries together...

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  26. Upper Arlington, a suburb of Columbus, OH is still really nice too. I grew up there (elementary school), and still feel more connected to that place than anywhere else.

    It's not what it used to be, but they haven't ruined it like most other places have allowed. The bowling alley is gone, both malls got converted into strip centers, and the playgrounds are nothing that will stick in the children's memories.

    But the senior citizens still pack into the MCL cafeteria like they used to, there's still a family-owned grocer in the shopping center across from the school I went to, there are only a few new housing developments -- most of the domestic architecture looks like it did in the '80s, including tons of Tudor Revival houses from the '20s. And it's one of the few places where I've seen kids shooting hoops in the driveway.

    It's too bad that most of the people there are a lot older than before -- it feels like one of those places that young people want to move away from once they head off for college, and not come back.

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