My bubble

In my review of Charles Murray’s book, I noted that I had a very thick bubble – indicating that I’ve successfully isolated myself from the white American underclass.

My bubble, however, is weird.

Murray devotes some space in his book to analyzing the DC area. He notes that if you are invited to dinner at the house of some elite, it’s possible the address of the party will be in a couple of neighborhoods, but it’s almost certain to be in one of four or five other zip codes. I live in one of the former areas.

The SuperZips, in Murray’s book, are those with a very large concentration of elites. My neighborhood’s concentration is not very high, but it’s not in a very weird way. There are essentially two types of people in my neighborhood: very elite whites (elite in terms of influence, income and education) and poor blacks.

My bubble then is thick in the sense that I don’t eat at TGI Friday’s, but it’s thin in the sense that I ate at Popeye’s a couple weeks ago. I don’t watch Nascar, but sometimes at neighborhood establishments (like Popeye’s), I see customers and employees getting in verbal altercations. Crime is relatively high, but it’s possible to believe that "your neighbors" don’t commit crime (with "neighbors" somewhat subjectively defined). Etc.

12 Responses to My bubble

  1. Is the weirdness of your bubble per se (i.e. not its thickness or thinness) common among any class, however small?

    I ask because I hypothesize that, unusual as it is, WeirdBubble is pretty common among executive branch and judicial branch policymakers. I think this is the nature of DC–lots of the detail people are going to live on nice blocks right next to Marion Barry’s natural constituency. (Incidentally, IIRC the most expensive single Federal agency happens to be located in Baltimore, with approximately the same demographic mix although perhaps not the same urban geography.)

    First observation, assuming my hypothesis is correct: DC is laden with neighborhoods that are the opposite of State Legislature (small business owners and farmers with some spare time, interspersed with periods of hard work, who are attracted to government via the legislative branch). These neighborhoods are full of law clerks, GS-9s, Schedule Bs, State Department FSOs, etc. (Had I ever spent much time in a neighborhood like this, or been more social when I was there*, the details of the previous sentence, would be more accurate.)

    Second observation: This is part of the distinction between flyover elites and coastal elites. NYC has private-sector equivalents of DC elites, no?

    Third observation: Coastal elites sort of have a gun to their heads. Whatever their actual feelings are, their displayed behavior looks like Stockholm Syndrome to me. I wonder if Murray talks about the disconnect between financial elite and government elite on the one hand, and flyover elite on the other hand. (It’s fair to say that with Murray’s book as important as it is, I should be reading it, but right now I’m mid-way through the New Testament. So there!)

    * I live in Rosslyn for about a year. Behavior was uniformly bizarre to me, so I avoided everyone. I don’t flourish in cities.

    • Foseti says:

      It’s not as common as you’d think in DC. NW DC and surrounding areas of VA and MD are pretty isolated from the underclass of any color.

      • Dear 120 WPM:

        Gotcha. I suppose P.G. County and Capitol Hill just don’t house too many targets for Black Dada Nihilismus.

        Under 80 WPM

      • josh says:

        What are the super-zips and do I live in one. Dude, I will go bubble-a-bubble with anyone, any day.

      • Foseti says:

        I believe they are zip codes with elites above a certain threshold. I think maybe 80% of residents are elite. There are a couple maps in the book of the superzips (especially in DC). Super interesting.

  2. thrasymachus33308 says:

    A lot of the bubble comes from the class of your parents and grandparents. Obama’s “cool” personality is under discussion (and praise) at the Atlantic, and they speculate where it comes from. To me it’s obvious it’s just the passive-aggressiveness that is considered polite, refined behavior by educated liberals. He got this from his grandparents. If your grandparents were educated liberals, all the family members you had contact with would probably be also, and they would all select bubble environments.

    It depends on other things as well, such as how much and where you travel. I travel a lot, and I love Chili’s. But I would never eat there when I wasn’t on the road.

    • Foseti says:

      I also really like Chili’s (that accounted for some of my score actually). Unfortunately, there aren’t any Chili’s in DC. I’d have to drive to the suburbs.

      • josh says:

        I haven’t been to Chili’s in a decade, but that one is unfair. Chili’s burgers are objectively good. But, then, it does say something that still drive to Ray’s in Arlington.

  3. asdf says:

    Restaurants you eat in “on the go” really ought not count in the bubble score. The question is where you eat when time and convenience are not a factor.

  4. Handle says:

    The question is what are we supposed to do about these bubbles even if we want to do something about them? The only answer I can think of is the preeminent American class-and-culture intermixing and homogenizing institution, the one that completely burst my own bubble and prevents me from following a natural tendency to segregate myself amongst like-taste folks and increasingly yuppify / SWPLify my lifestyle.

    That would be the military. I don’t imagine most people would favor some form of universal conscription into actual true-equality (read: no special jobs or assignments based either on ability or background). It would, however, teach the elites the basic virtues of hierarchical aristocratic feudalism to include looking out for the best interests of your subordinates and noblesse oblige.

    • asdf says:

      There may be something to it, but it is unrealistic.

      Murray’s book teaches fatalism. I am of the same area. You can act well in your own life but expect little of society.

  5. sconzey says:

    Isn’t the bubble thing about your separation from the *white* underclass?

    I know some of the questions are more general than that, but I thought NASCAR and factory employment were generally white working class things?

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