Re: How has America changed?

Virginia Postrel: We take for granted things that are vast changes in a very short period of time. Before World War II, the U.S. was extremely divided geographically. There was not . . . People didn’t travel. Most people didn’t travel very far outside their region. There was relatively little national media. And of course there were, while we had had a period of large-scale immigration, at that time there was much more culturally homogeneous population. But also, it was a population that each individual person within whatever world they lived could think the rest of the country was like them. I actually am a little skeptical about how homogeneous the population was. There was kind of a model that the world was like you, or the world was like some standard. We’ve gone from that world to not only a diverse world, but one where everyone is interacting with everybody else. And there’s fragmentation and specialization, but also much more national chains. National media. National travel. Plane travels. Everybody complains the airlines are full of people and it’s very stressful, but that’s a very big difference and allows you to travel great distances. Tremendous changes. Technological changes. Life span changes. And then things like family structure have changed enormously. When Louise Brown was born in England – the first test tube baby – all those bioethical thinkers and chin pullers like me were saying, “Oh, this is a big revolution in human affairs.” Now it’s just like your relative. So there are all these test tube babies. And big deal. They’re just babies and they’re in families. And families are not maybe exactly the same as they were, but the family as an institution hasn’t disappeared. It’s just evolved. People assimilate seemingly radical changes into the normal world. And then they often seem just like the way things have always been, even though they’re not.

Recorded on: 7/4/07

 

People assimilate seemingly radical changes into their normal world.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less