Opinion

Millennials Speak Out

Millennials are the face of the future. Born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, their ranks include doctors, teachers, students, CEOs, astronauts, mothers, fathers and future presidents. What are their aspirations, motivations, concerns and outlook? Are they happy? Pittsburgh Quarterly’s Alayna Jones visited Pittsburgh-​area places, ranging from the…

On a Pedestal: Magee-​Womens Research Institute

Many Pittsburghers have a somewhat vague idea that the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC successfully attract federal dollars to support their varied research activities. But the extent of that success in recent years is almost shocking when you look at the numbers and the rankings.

Black and White

For the first eight years of my teaching career, the only white face in my classroom was mine. I was aware of that fact, of course, but only peripherally. My students were just that, my students. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying I was colorblind. I just didn’t relate to my…

Lessons from the Farm

Out at the farm, there’s an old trailer that my parents bought about 30 years ago after the farmhouse we’d been restoring burned to the ground. I’m sure that when Mom and Dad were alive and used it on weekends, the trailer had enough of Mom’s touches to make it…

Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life

A few weeks ago, in a post about J. D. Vance’s book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” I mentioned in passing that I was convinced that having spit-​shined my Army combat boots may have saved my life. I didn’t elaborate, and since then several dozen people have inquired about that brief aside. So…

Why Democracy Matters

Just to make it simple, let’s define Europe’s “illiberal democracies” as those countries where elected leaders profoundly disagree with the liberal, inclusive, affluent worldview of the EU’s political classes.

On a Pedestal: National Flag Foundation, Clarion Quartet

The National Flag Foundation — What’s in a symbol? One great thing about pittsburgh is that, as long as you may have lived here and made a study of the area, surprises always pop up to greet you. Case in point: Pittsburgh is home to the National Flag Foundation, a nonprofit that…

The Media Has It All Wrong

I mentioned last week that I recently visited Switzerland, Austria and Hungary, and that if we think things have gone nuts in the U.S., we have no idea.

The Hillbilly Saga: Conclusion

The bottom line of J. D. Vance’s book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” is that far too many people from southeastern Kentucky are trapped in a hillbilly culture that stands in the way of their own success. As if that weren’t bad enough, hillbillies are discriminated against because people aren’t willing to distinguish…

How to React to a Hillbilly

Last week we tried to imagine how Professor Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize-​winning author of “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” would react if he saw a couple of hillbillies coming into his store. This week we’ll re-​look at that situation, pretending that Kahneman isn’t a Nobel Prize winning professor at all, but…

The Stubbornness of Culture

In 2013 J. D. Vance graduated from Yale Law School, an accomplishment he shared that year with the following fraction of his fellow Americans: 0.00000063.

Don’t Even Think About Crossing a Hillbilly

We’ve talked about several obstacles to success in middle class Ohio for migrants from southeastern Kentucky: they had horrible accents and they tended to dress funny. But the biggest obstacle was the most difficult to overcome: their behavior.

Don’t Dress Like a Hillbilly

Last week we discussed one of the major hurdles recent immigrants from southeastern Kentucky faced when they tried to assimilate into middle class society in Ohio: they talked like hillbillies. This week we’ll look at a second hurdle: the matter of dress.

Opining on Eponymy

It used to be you had to die to get your name etched in stone.

The Inscrutable Foibles of Hillbilly Talk

Although the parallels between my life and that of J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” seem flat-​out astonishing, it’s actually the differences that are more interesting.
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