Comparing Vickies with Thetes

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Dave Ramsey shares 20 habits of the rich, including this one:

63% of wealthy parents make their children read 2 or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% for poor.

Fifteen years ago, when Arnold Kling had a relocation web site, they acquired data on neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics, and the consumer purchase that most correlated with affluence was hardbound books.

By the way, Vickies are the neo-Victorians of Neal Stephenson’s near-future science-fiction novel, Diamond Age, and Thetes are the neo-Jersey Shore types.


  1. Dan Kurt says:

    Like so many of Neal Stephenson’s works, the first third to half of Diamond Age is simply brilliant, and then the wheels fall off. Does he just become bored or what? Toward the end of the book I became so bored I just stopped reading and downloaded another free P.G. Wodehouse work from project Gutenberg to clear my mind.

    Suggestion: read Orwell’s In Defence of P.G. Wodehouse (1945).

  2. Joetexx says:

    Can a child who requires such an order be worth educating?

    I can’t remember not reading, but my family had a large number of books. My father read incessantly, my mother dutifully. Each recommended books to me but never required me to do anything but my assigned classwork. Had they ordered me to read stuff in my limited free time, I’d have poisoned their coffee.

    Then again, they were neither rich nor poor, and I am the same.

  3. Orthodox says:

    “Can a child who requires such an order be worth educating?”

    Do you have children? There’s that saying about the Jesuits straightening a kid out by age seven, but most people need more time.

  4. Al Fin says:

    This phenomenon is not specific to the rich, but rather to the intellectual classes. In the Obama age, many of these families may take greater advantage of libraries, free internet downloads, or make more purchases via used book outlets — none of which are monitored as closely as new book sales.

    Dan Kurt:

    What you say may be a bit unfair to Stephenson. Some of his books may well lose their way, but your vague quantifier “so many of” could lead someone unfamiliar with Stephenson to reject him altogether.

    A better way of getting your point across would be to mention the particular books which you found it difficult to read to the end.

  5. Ivvenalis says:

    Al Fin: I don’t know that I would say only “the first third” of his books are good. It’s probably more like three quarters. Maybe even “95%”. But the fact that Stephenson can’t write a good ending is just an established fact. (I’ve read Snow Crash, Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon; those who have read more of his works say he hasn’t been able to break the pattern yet, but I haven’t read his latest).

    One problem with authors who are good at world-building (I’m talking specifically about Diamond Age with regard to Stephenson) is that the literary demand to create a “conflict” (especially if it is “epic”) often leads the author to muck up an interesting world, aka The Matrix Syndrome.

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