Sunday, June 29, 2008

Book Quotes

I thought these were interesting, given the time period in which they took place. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

From the book Alfred C. Kinsey, by James H. Jones

* * *

A glance at South Orange’s newspaper during the years immediately after 1900 provides an inventory of [residents’] fears. With varying degrees of alarm, local editors informed their readers about the rising divorce rate, working women, intemperance, the race problem, unemployment, and …the fear by many members of the middle class that recent immigrants …would take over the country by outbreeding old-stock Americans.

* * *

With the standards set so high, many American males had a hard time fulfilling their culture’s requirements to “be a man.” Everywhere there were signs of men who felt that something had gone wrong in their lives. Many had a vague apprehension that they did not measure up, as though they consistently yet inexplicably fell short of some invisible mark society expected them to meet. …Joining the ranks of those who walked around feeling anxious about their failure to meet the ideal were those who complained of a gnawing sense of disquietude, a fear that life was passing them by, that their daily experiences somehow failed to bring them into contact with the “real” world. Though voiced somewhat differently, each of these complaints registered the confusion many middle-class men felt about their gender identity, signaling a crisis of masculinity that reverberated in popular culture no less than in individual lives.

* * *

Almost to the person, the founders of the [Boy Scouts of America] regarded urban life as a cancer that was devouring the physical and moral strength of the nation. In the introduction to Boy Scouts of America: A Handbook of Woodcraft, Scouting, and Life-craft (1910), Ernest Thompson Seton…. [said] the last few decades had all but ruined the nation’s boys. Young men had been assaulted by new and insidious forces that threatened to sap every ounce of manhood from their spirit. Industrialization, urbanization, the collapse of small farms, and the decline of religion had produced “a very different type of youth in the country today.” Modern-day boys had no respect for their parents or superiors, no knowledge of tools, no ability to survive in the wilderness, and no devotion to what Seton called “the safe old moral standards.” Nor could their bodies match the splendid physiques of their ancestors. Neglecting their own athletic skills, they flocked to sporting events where they did “nothing but sit on the benches and look on, while indulging their tastes for tobacco and alcohol.”

* * *

Reformers used the rising divorce rate as proof of the need for change. Between 1870 and 1920, the divorce rate rose fifteenfold, and by 1924 one marriage out of seven ended in divorce.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

By Request: Sarai Vents, Part Deux

Apparently, someone out there reads my blog and likes me to vent. There was much disappointment at my lack of recent venting. I'm not going to name names or anything (Melissa Shimkus), but you know who you are.

So I have more to vent about. :)

I absolutely HATE those stupid fake deer people put in their front yards. The thing that strikes me as funny is you only see this in rural settings, where REAL DEER actually live. You never see fake deer on the lawns in the suburbs or inner city (though you do sometimes pass alarming lawns filled with all manner of junk, from manger scenes in the middle of summer to birdbaths to plastic flowers stuck in the grass pretending to be growing - I think these yards are designed to frighten would-be criminals into believing the owners are insane).

Fake deer. Why? WHY? Usually they are pointing toward the road, so as you approach and see it out of the corner of your eye you think there is a real deer getting ready to mosey in front of your car. This can lead to accidents, people! Two weeks ago, however, I spotted a fake deer family nestled most preciously in the shade of a tree. There was a mama deer, papa deer, and a couple of baby deer. They were all sitting on the ground, facing the tree as if to say, "Whew! Sure is hot out here! Thank goodness for this tree." Or perhaps they were worshiping the tree. I can't be sure. But the poor deer had a severe case of peeling paint. It must have been genetic, because the entire deer family suffered from it.

Another irritant is fake geese on porches, and sometimes in yards. Even better than fake geese, however, are fake geese wearing seasonal costumes. They sell these costumes in catalogs. I've seen them. You can buy one for every holiday. This was first pointed out to me by my friend Lynn in England, so it must be an international phenomenon.

And don't get me started on lawn cherubs. Okay. Naked children with wings and creepy smiles. Made of stone. Sometimes they don't have creepy smiles, but wear sad expressions. Because that's cheery to see in someone's yard. Always brightens my day.

That is my vent for the day. I made a list while we were traveling, so there are more vents to come. But my blog will not always be about venting.

Someday I'll get back to posting useless trivia. :)