A big thanks to the TOPcloud—er, -crowd—for yesterday. Based on a comment from Ben, last night I downloaded American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard. Just the Introduction is worth the price of admission. Lots about the United States can be explained by separating the idea of "State" and "nation" and understanding the U.S.A. in terms of competing cultural and regional "nations" (see the map from the book, above. Note the extent of "Greater Appalachia"—that's the culture J.D. Vance characterizes as "hillbilly" in Hillbilly Elegy). Fascinating stuff.
Following right along with the "hillbilly" idea, thanks also to Tom Passin for the link to a long review, on the blog Slate Star Codex, of the book Albion's Seed, about the different types of English cultures that were transplanted to America. I enjoyed the summary of the lurid, fractious "Borderers," because the Johnstons were a border clan. The "Borderers" idea also lines right up with the culture of "Greater Appalachia."
I do wonder how many white, ethnically English Americans combine some portion of different types, however—I know I am descended from Borderers, Quakers, and Puritans, although in what proportions I have no idea. I try my best not to start 972-page books in any case, so a good review is valuable.
Great stuff. I know some people don't like it when I stray from photographic topics, but what you have to understand (and, I hope, sympathize with) is that whenever I do, I get rewarded—almost without fail, someone in the readership "gifts" me with something that expands my horizons and enlarges my knowledge. It's tough not to stray off-topic from time to time when the rewards for Yr. Hmbl. Blggr. are so great.
If anything, I wish I could think of more inventive ways to change the subject!
(Thanks to Ben, Tom, and many other commenters)
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Miserere: "I've no problem when you stray; it's not like we're married. :-D I liked what one of your commenters said once: TOP is a blog about a guy who runs a photography blog. I still chuckle every time I remember this...which is every time you stray and someone complains. Maybe you should add this byline to the TOP banner."