Wednesday, March 17, 2021

JD Vance

 JD Vance would be an interesting candidate. I read his book, Hillbilly Elegy and liked it quite a bit.  He grew up that family brand of Appalachian poor from Kentucky that moved to small-town Ohio to get work, but still went back a lot and kept their culture.  He went to the USMC, then summa at Ohio State, then Yale Law School, and humorously recounts the social niceties he needed to learn to succeed at the last of those - that it was important his belt matched his shoes, which would never have occurred to him - in addition to the academic excellence. Though he never says it this way, it's pretty clear that people just plain like him.

The author of the piece, Henry Olsen, is one of the few at the Washington Post who won't make you crazy, Sam. I know you're suspicious, but you'll just have to take my word for it.


Grim said...

I'm sure I've mentioned this, but my high school taught classes in public speaking that included many similar 'rules' as the belt/boots rule. The 't' in "often" is silent; "theater/theatre" is pronounced "thea-AH-ter" not "THEA-ater," etc. The overarching point was not to sound so much like a Southerner if you wanted to be accepted by civilized society.

Oh, and the belt/boots rule was really not supposed to embrace boots. I just still think of it that way because I never wear anything but boots.

Grim said...

"Don't wear brown suits to the city!" It's been a long time since I thought about these things, but once upon a time I was taught a lot of such rules for just the same purpose.

Texan99 said...

Back when I used to wear belts and shoes, I did take care to match them. No idea where I picked the idea up.

I don't pronounce the "t" in "often," but I say THEE-ater, not the-AY-ter. I think my habit is standard in both American and Brit dictionaries.

Southern (or at least Texan) suburban upbringing, no special family pretensions, public schools, lots of TV speech influence.

My Yankee colleagues may or may not have found my accent quaint, but the only comment I remember getting was amusement that I would say "It's not either," when my colleague would say "No, it's not." In written language I'd say it his way.

I think what sets me apart from most Texans is saying NOO-clee-ar instead of NOO-kyu-lar. Also, jewelry, cavalry, etc., and perhaps an insistence on the difference between "lie" and "lay" in all tenses, not to mention using the objective case of pronouns where grammar indicates ("between you and me"), where I differ not only from most Texans but apparently most English speakers these days. However, like many Texans, I insist on pe-KAHN. I'm just a girl who cain't say PEE-can.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

It was also amusing that he was often taught these things by 2nd-generation Americans, not bluebloods. At an anthropological level, it makes a sort of sense. Those with power don't want to admit people who will change the rules, however ruthless and ambitious they are within the culture. (That problem can be dealt with in other ways.) You were either born to that class and have an interest in perpetuating it, or you are making significant effort or sacrifice to get into it, which is also reliable. So you develop rules that are not immediately apparent. No one ever announced that your best choice was to drive a Volvo 240, but...*

All groups do this, but we tend to resent it more when the price is very high, or it seems artificial and unrelated, or some people are going to be excluded no matter what they do, because they are female, or Jewish, or whatever.

*Maybe I should get one now, as a humorous tweaking of that attitude from a few decades back. It's probably still a good car.

Grim said...

Re: Volvos, they were standard equipment at the private high school I went to for the last two years of my high school education. I was occasionally enlisted to change tires on them because they didn't know how, but figured (correctly) that I probably would. At the time I was perfectly happy to be asked, since it was pretty girls doing the asking; but I suppose it was a kind of commentary on class, since they didn't ask other young men of their class (who might not have been able to do it either). Still, being capable is a good thing even if it is déclassé.

Uncle Bill said...

I dunno. Several people who I know who have owned Volvos have said to me, "It's a great car... when I can keep it running."

RichardJohnson said...

"Don't wear brown suits to the city!"
Reagan apparently broke a class taboo by wearing brown suits, given the number of times the press saw fit to comment on his doing so.

Re Grim's comment about changing tires at the private high school he attended, I am reminded of my school years. I was an academically inclined son of professionals in a working class town. Also farmers. Peers on occasion would say, "Yeah, he's smart, but if his car broke down in the middle of nowhere he couldn't change a tire." I don't remember how old I was when I first changed a tire, but I had no problem doing so. Changing a tire isn't exactly rocket science. OTOH, some 8th grade classmates assembled an auto transmission for a science project. Maybe not rocket science, but that took a lot more skill than changing a tire.

Thanks to YouTube videos, I do a lot of car repair myself these days.Those scanners are also rather helpful.

My aunt drove a Volvo because her physician recommended it for her back. I don't know what her politics were, though as the owner of an ad agency she didn't fit the Volvo stereotype. Her children are die-hard Republicans in deep blue Los Angeles. And I don't mean the Dodgers.

However, like many Texans, I insist on pe-KAHN. I'm just a girl who cain't say PEE-can.

Ditto, though I picked it up growing up in New England, courtesy of my Okie mother. Where I also learned NOO-clee-ar.

I grew up in New England with a lot of people of Eastern European descent. One of my classmates spoke only Hungarian until he was 4. I unconsciously picked up some of those intonations in my speech. One time as a substitute teacher in TX, I spoke "tree" instead of "three." After a student corrected me, I thought to myself- "I know where THAT 'tree' came from." I usually say "three," but not that time.

Matching belts and shoes-had no idea about that.

james said...

I'd no idea about belts/shoes either. Does a cloth belt go with sneakers? Or, given how much plastic and rubber goes into them, maybe a rubber belt?

I alternate between pe-KAHN and PEE-can with no apparent pattern, though mostly the former.

In Liberia, formal occasions demanded that men wear a formal suit. Never mind that these are painful in the heat and humidity--this is what was _done_.
And then President Tubman died, and Vice President Tolbert was sworn in. He was wearing a light sport coat at the time, which became known as a Swear-In Suit and became the new appropriate dress wear--to widespread relief.

Grim said...

I had heard that a cloth belt goes with boat shoes. Sneakers may be too informal to have a rule.

Texan99 said...

It occurs to me that the internal rule about belts and shoes applied only if I was wearing brown or black shoes, as most men would do in business settings. Women, however, wear shoes of all sorts of colors, especially blue. There was no such thing as a blue leather belt to go with blue shoes. I suppose this means I was picking up on a color matching that men do, and adopting it only to the extent it was relevant to some of my own outfits. Women's rules for formal wear were much less obvious. In our New York office, it was a blood sport. In Houston, where I worked, there was a definite hierarchy, but not so brutal.

Grim said...

Yes, I don't think I've ever owned a blue pair of shoes. Neither green nor red... no ruby slippers for us!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I don't know if it's a rule that cloth belt goes with boat shoes, but it is certainly common up here amongst the prep set. The cloth belt usually has some type of figuring on it as well, such as anchors or dogs.