Friday, November 08, 2013

Mayor Ford's troubles

Earlier today, a friend made an interesting slip when he spoke of Toronto's mayor Ford as having been "snorting" cocaine. I am no expert on controlled substances, but I am told that there is a significant sociological difference between smoking crack cocaine and using the powdered stuff.

Ford's troubles with crack recall those of an American politician, Washington's mayor Marion Barry, Jr. In January 1990, during his first term, Barry was videotaped smoking crack cocaine and arrested by FBI officials on drug charges. The arrest and subsequent trial precluded Barry seeking re-election, and he served six months in a federal prison.

Speaking very generally, crack cocaine was popular in the inner city, especially with minority groups. Snorting the powdered variety was more common among Wall Street and Hollywood types. Although he was better off than most, Barry fit this pattern. Ford, however, does not. The Toronto mayor is not identified with the multicultural inner city but with the conservative, largely white suburbs of the Canadian city.  It seems, though, that he gets his supply from Somalian gangs who provide crack, pot, and guns.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Generations and response cohorts

In a now-familiar coinage, Strauss and Howe popularized the notion that "millennials" are THE contemporary generation, succeeding the previous one, Generation X.  Btw, the concept of generation theory, which has always struck me as somewhat dubious, goes back to the 1920s. In those days the German scholar Wilhelm Pinder, one of the first advocates of the idea, wrote of “contemporaneous noncontemporaneity. That is, different character types may be thought of as it were stacked one atop the other.

Today it seems to me that it is not character types but response to technology that is the key.  In this light four cohorts coexist today; 1) the Luddites, who refuse to acquire any digital skills; 2) reluctant cyberconverts like me; 3) cybercompetents, who were not, however, born that way; and 4) young people who have known nothing but the cyber world.

 (For an account of the Strauss-Howe theories, see the following:–Howe_generational_theory)