Sunday, March 12, 2006

What's in style?

Tom Wolfe:
"There is such a thing as intellectual fashion--just as we get our clothing fashions--and often it does not mean anything more," he says. "One follows fashion in order to look proper, and it's the same thing with ideas."
He also wears an American flag pin just to freak out Manhattan intellectuals. You gotta love that.
Mr. Wolfe has a habit of using experience and anecdote to gird an argument or shade a meaning, and he carries on like this for some time. Then, abruptly: "I really love this country. I just marvel at how good it is, and obviously it's the simple principle of freedom. . . . Intellectually this is the system where people tend to experiment more and their experiments are indulged. Whatever we're doing I think we've done it extremely, extremely, extremely well." Silence. "These are terrible things to be saying if you want to have any standing in the intellectual world."
Indeed. No glass is half-full chatter among those groups even if things might be getting better:

• Health: Americans are living longer and healthier than at anytime in history.

• Safety: Crime rates have plummeted. In the last thirty years, there has been a 40 percent decrease in the number of violent crimes against women and a 67 percent decline in violent crimes against men.

• Income and Employment: More Americans are working today than ever before. Since 1967, per capita income has doubled.

• Well-Being: Americans overwhelmingly report being happy and satisfied with their personal lives. Americans are far happier and more optimistic than their counterparts in Europe.

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