Category: the game of life

Trash, White Trash, and REAL Trash

Writing in Oxford American, Chris Offutt’s Trash Food almost gets it right:

My thoughts and feelings were completely irrational. I knew they made no sense. Most of what I owned had belonged to someone else—cars, clothes, shoes, furniture, dishware, cookbooks. I liked old and battered things. They reminded me of myself, still capable and functioning despite the wear and tear.

and

Nevertheless I’d felt compelled to mislead him [my Oxford friend] based on class stigma. I was ashamed—of my fifteen-year-old Mazda, my income, and my rented home. I felt ashamed of the very clothes I was wearing, the shoes on my feet. Abruptly, with the force of being struck in the face, I understood it wasn’t his judgment I feared. It was my own.

The road to getting over this is simple:  stop worrying about what other folks think and trust your own judgement.  Only a fool yuppie pays full price for goods that rapidly depreciate.  Tricks like eschewing $75 shirts and shopping at the resale store, the day-old bread store, and the discount market where no English is spoken have netted me enough cash to buy a gently-used BMW Z4.  OUTRIGHT. That car is now 12 years old, squeaky clean, well-maintained, and payment-free.

Offutt worries about the kind of folks labeled “white trash”

The term “white trash” is an epithet of bigotry that equates human worth with garbage. It implies a dismissal of the group as stupid, violent, lazy, and untrustworthy—the same negative descriptors of racial minorities, of anyone outside of the mainstream. At every stage of American history, various groups of people have endured such personal attacks. Language is used as a weapon: divisive, cruel, enciphered. Today is no different.

BUT, he needs to remember that there are plenty of folks who we white trash label as real trash: stupid, violent, lazy, and untrustworthy for starters,, But also whining, wheedling drug-addled grifters.  By their unkempt surroundings, undisciplined pets, garish grooming, tats, cigarettes, and pawnshop jewelry you will know them.

The sin of the white elites is their failure to make distinctions.  The racial stereotyping they so decry is exactly what they apply to working class whites.  Offutt, to his credit, knows how to deal with these smartasses:

When strangers thought I was stupid because of where I grew up, I understood that they were granting me the high ground. I learned to patiently wait in ambush for the chance to utterly demolish them intellectually. Later I realized that this particular battle strategy was a waste of energy. It was easier to simply stop talking to that person—forever.

Trash Food is good food for thought, go read the whole thing.

Tip from Vanderleun at American Digest, where he dishes some real pearls.

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To tattoo or not tattoo?

Young, and looking to get a great job?  You might think twice about getting a tatto and sending the world the wrong message:

We collect numerous measures of time preferences and impulsivity of tattooed and non-tattooed subjects and find broad-ranging and robust evidence that those with tattoos, especially visible ones, are more short-sighted and impulsive than the non-tattooed. Almost nothing mitigates these results…

Don’t think businesses aren’t taking note during that hiring interview.

Tip from American Digest

Everybody can do something better than you can

Rachel DiCarlo Currie explains Why We Need a Revival of Humility.  Here’s the money quote

Shortly before leaving the Senate, Kyl spoke to Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard and described a childhood trip to his local county fair in Iowa. Upon arriving at the fair, Kyl said, his father made sure that he saw the man who managed parking for the attendees. “He does that better than anyone else,” his father told him. “Everybody can do something better than you can.”

Everybody can do something better than you can. Imagine how much different our society would be if each of us embraced those words as a daily mantra.

That’s why I don’t tell the plumber, the tile guy, the yard guy, the pool guy, or my mechanic how to do his job.  If I was so friggin’ smart, why would I be paying these guys?

Tip from the Instapundit, where Sarah Hoyt has been on a roll lately.  Must be ’cause she just finished another novel.

Maybe clothes DO make the man

Here’s a school program that’s so off-the wall it might actually make a difference: providing washing machines in public schools.  It’s early days, with little data collected, but compared to Michelle O’s disastrous school lunch madness, it’s an intriguing experiment with potentially outsize benefits.  Virginia Postrel might have some insight into ideas like this.

Tip from Happy Acres, who’s gotten this a bit muddled with the more general notion of personal hygiene* as a component of good sanitation and public health programs.

whitemansoap

* I’m usually very critical of do-gooders descending upon folks and telling them what to do “for their own good.”  I call that the Bwana Syndrome, and progressives thrive on it, at home and abroad.  However, Bwana says “wash your hands” seems eminently sensible to me.  Can “wash your clothes” be that much different?