Sorted out

The Big SortI’ve just now caught up with The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart, by Austinite Bill Bishop, with statistical analysis by Robert G. Cushing. This book, now nearly a year old, follows up and greatly expands upon a series of articles on cities of ideas in the local daily of a few years ago (by Bill Bishop and Mark Lisheron), contending that Americans like to live in neighborhoods composed mostly of their cultural and political counterparts and that this may be a Bad Thing. The prose is accompanied by graphs, maps, a long bibliography, and footnotes galore.

I’m not sure that most people deliberately set out to live among their mirror images, but maybe they do. Austin is a oft-cited example in this book, and my own neighborhood, election precinct, and community Listserv come under the magnifying glass at times.

How did I come to live where I do? I’m now in my second habitation on the same side of the same street, having previously resided briefly in the Austin Motel on South Congress, back when the restaurant there was a Chinese cafe. It all came down to which landlords would willingly rent to tenants with two dogs and two cats and no security deposit. That world was south of the river, and it has changed a lot since then.

“Che” is cited in the book as a dog’s name in this part of town. Not our dogs: Mack and Brownie. Our cats? Spike and Mothra.

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