Monday, Mar. 12, 2012
Living Alone Is The New Norm
By Eric Klinenberg

"The extraordinary rise of solitary living is the biggest social change that we've neglected to identify, let alone examine.

Consider that in 1950, a mere 4 million Americans lived alone, and they made up only 9% of households. Back then, going solo was most common in the open, sprawling Western states--Alaska, Montana and Nevada--that attracted migrant workingmen, and it was usually a short-lived stage on the road to a more conventional domestic life.

Not anymore. According to 2011 census data, people who live alone--nearly 33 million Americans--make up 28% of all U.S. households, which means they are now tied with childless couples as the most prominent residential type, more common than the nuclear family, the multigenerational family and the roommate or group home. These aren't just transitional living situations: over a five-year period, people who live alone are more likely to remain in their current state than anyone else except married couples with children. They're concentrated in big cities throughout the country, from Seattle to Miami, Minneapolis to New Orleans.

Living alone, being alone and feeling lonely are hardly the same, yet in recent years experts have routinely conflated them, raising fears that the rise of soloists signals the ultimate atomization of the modern world. The theme of declining communities entered popular culture with Bowling Alone, political scientist Robert D. Putnam's book, which was published in 2000. It argued that social splintering had diminished the quality of life in the U.S. More recently, in The Lonely American, Harvard psychiatrists Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz warn that "increased aloneness" and "the movement in our country toward greater social isolation" are damaging our health and happiness.

Their evidence: First, a widely disputed finding published in the American Sociological Review that from 1985 to 2004, the number of Americans who said they had no one with whom they discussed important matters had tripled, to nearly a quarter of the population. (One of the study's authors later acknowledged that there was a problem with the data and that the findings were unreliable.)

Second, an interpretation: that the record number of people who live alone is a sign of how lonely and disconnected we have become.

In fact, there's little evidence that the rise of living alone is making more Americans lonely. Reams of published research show that it's the quality, not the quantity, of social interactions that best predicts loneliness. As University of Chicago social neuroscientist John T. Cacioppo concluded in the book he co-authored, Loneliness, what matters is not whether we live alone but whether we feel alone. There's ample support for this idea outside the laboratory. As divorced or separated people often say, there's nothing lonelier than living with the wrong person.

My research--which includes more than 300 interviews with people who live alone and careful scrutiny of the scientific literature on the social connections of solo dwellers--shows that most singletons are not lonely souls. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that people who live alone compensate by becoming more socially active than those who live with others and that cities with high numbers of singletons enjoy a thriving public culture.

The truth is, nearly everyone who lives alone has other, less expensive options, from finding roommates to living with family. But today most people presented with those choices will opt to go solo. Wouldn't you?

After all, living alone serves a purpose: it helps us pursue sacred modern values--individual freedom, personal control and self-realization--that carry us from adolescence to our final days.

Living alone allows us to do what we want, when we want, on our own terms. It liberates us from the constraints of a domestic partner's needs and demands and permits us to focus on ourselves. Today, in our age of digital media and ever expanding social networks, living alone can offer even greater benefits: the time and space for restorative solitude.

This means that living alone can help us discover who we are as well as what gives us meaning and purpose. Paradoxically, living alone might be exactly what we need to reconnect.

Klinenberg is a professor of sociology at New York University. His latest book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, was published by the Penguin Press in February





2人が論拠として挙げているのは:第一に、大いに議論を呼んだ「米国の社会学的再検討(American Sociological Review)」に発表された研究結果によれば、大事なことを話し合う人がいない、と答えた人は1985年から2004年の間に3倍に増え、その数は人口の25%にあたる(後になって著者の1人は、データには問題があり、結果は信頼できないことがわかった、と言っている)。








Monday, Mar. 12, 2012
Your Head Is In The Cloud
By Annie Murphy Paul

Inundated by more information than we can possibly hold in our heads, we're increasingly handing off the job of remembering to search engines and smart phones. Google is even reportedly working on eyeglasses that could one day recognize faces and supply details about whoever you're looking at. But new research shows that outsourcing our memory--and expecting that information will be continually and instantaneously available--is changing our cognitive habits.

Research conducted by Betsy Sparrow, an assistant professor of psychology at Columbia University, and published last year in the journal Science has identified three new realities about how we process information in the Internet age. First, her experiments showed that when we don't know the answer to a question, we now think about where we can find the nearest Web connection instead of the subject of the question itself. For example, the query "Are there any countries with only one color in their flag?" prompted study participants to think not about flags but about computers.

A second revelation: when we expect to be able to find information again later on, we don't remember it as well as when we think it might become unavailable. Sparrow's subjects were asked to type facts into a computer--for example, "The space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry over Texas in February 2003." Half were told that their work would be saved; the rest were told that their words would be erased. Those who believed that the computer would store the information recalled details less well on their own. Sparrow compares their situation to one we all experience in the hyperconnected real world: "Since search engines are continually available to us, we may often be in a state of not feeling we need to encode the information internally. When we need it, we will look it up." Sound familiar?

The researchers' final observation: the expectation that we'll be able to locate information down the line leads us to form a memory not of the fact itself but of where we'll be able to find it. "We are learning what the computer 'knows' and when we should attend to where we have stored information in our computer-based memories," Sparrow and her colleagues concluded in their report. "We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools."

Before you grow nervous about turning into a cyborg, however, you should know that this new symbiosis with our digital devices is really just a variant of a much more familiar phenomenon, what psychologists call transactive memory. This is the unspoken arrangement by which groups of people dole out memory tasks to each individual, with information to be shared when needed. In a marriage, one spouse might remember the kids' after-school appointments while the other keeps track of the recycling-pickup schedule. In a workplace team, one member may be the designated number cruncher while a colleague is charged with remembering client preferences. The way we delegate to our computers is simply an extension of this principle--an instance of transactive memory carried out on a very grand scale.

But this handoff comes with a downside. Skills like critical thinking and analysis must develop in the context of facts: we need something to think and reason about, after all. And these facts can't be Googled as we go; they need to be stored in the original hard drive, our long-term memory. Especially in the case of children, "factual knowledge must precede skill," says Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia--meaning that the days of drilling the multiplication table and memorizing the names of the Presidents aren't over quite yet. Adults, too, need to recruit a supply of stored knowledge in order to situate and evaluate new information they encounter. You can't Google context.

Last, there's the possibility, increasingly terrifying to contemplate, that our machines will fail us. As Sparrow puts it, "The experience of losing our Internet connection becomes more and more like losing a friend." If you're going to keep your memory on your smart phone, better make sure it's fully charged.

Paul, a columnist for TIME Ideas and the author of Origins, is working on a book on the science of learning











Monday, Mar. 12, 2012
Little Bitty Bourbon
By Katy Steinmetz

Paul Tomaszewski pulls into the local granary every month to pick up 50-lb. bags of white corn, which he then hauls 6 miles down the road, past a scrawled sign touting turnip greens and a printed one welcoming visitors to the town of Pembroke, Ky. (pop. 869). He is heading home to a former Amish dairy farm that is now MB Roland Distillery, where he and his wife are starting out in the bourbon business. "We jumped in with both feet," says Merry Beth, her Southern accent coating the words. "Everything is mortgaged to the hilt."

The Tomaszewskis have company. Seven years ago, there were about 50 so-called microdistilleries in the U.S. Today there are about 250, many of them small, self-financed, sputtering start-ups. But the Tomaszewskis' choice of spirit separates them in the microbooze biz, both in terms of the difficulties they face and the prospects they have as a small company. Bourbon, after decades of playing second fiddle to clear spirits like vodka and gin, is booming. The bourbon business grew faster than any other big-liquor industry in the U.S. last year. Fancy firewaters did particularly well: sales of superpremium bourbons grew just over 15% in 2010 and 2011. Like craft beer in the past two decades, corn-mash whiskey is undergoing something of a rebirth. "What we're really talking about," says Bill Owens, president of the American Distilling Institute, "is a redefining of the word bourbon."

The easy choice for craft distillers is to produce made-today, sold-tomorrow products like vodka or niche drinks like apple brandy. By contrast, bourbon is a type of whiskey that by federal law must be distilled from at least 51% corn and then aged in charred new oak barrels, which gives bourbon its color. Straight bourbon, an industry standard, must be at least two years old, which means you can't start a bourbon distillery one day and sell straight stuff the next. Another challenge is the competition: the old bourbon industry is already dominated by behemoths like Jim Beam and Evan Williams. How giant are they? Though there's no official cutoff, craft producers typically make up to 100,000 gal. of spirits a year. Beam makes 112,370 gal. a day.

The micro rush is especially visible in Kentucky, but there are craft distilleries in 45 states, up from 12 about a decade ago. A number of states have lowered licensing fees for tiny distilleries, and a few have loosened regulations against on-site tasting. "It's sort of like if you're standing at Sutter's Mill in 1849," Frank Coleman of the Distilled Spirits Council says about the microdistillery boom. "You're seeing all these people rushing by you with mining tools."

And because corn grows outside the heartland, micro bourbons are being distilled well beyond the Bluegrass State. Ralph Erenzo, who ran a climbing gym in New York City, originally bought land in the Hudson Valley to start a climbing ranch. When neighbors objected and threatened lawsuits, he and a partner settled on starting Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, N.Y. "We had no experience making whiskey whatsoever," Erenzo says. Not knowing the business, they felt free to ignore tradition with their Hudson Baby Bourbon, a 100%-corn spirit aged for only four months. Business took off after buzz spread among beverage managers at New York City restaurants and bars.

For consumers attracted to all things handcrafted, organic and locally produced, consistency matters less than some special spin on the process. Take the Garrison Brothers Distillery, outside Austin, for instance, where they use rainwater for production and have a long waiting list of volunteers who want to help bottle the spirit. Corsair Distillery in Tennessee, known for unconventional whiskeys, has a 12-grain bourbon mix in its barrels (far beyond the standard three). And Tomaszewski boasts about MB Roland's (named after his wife) pure, barrel-to-mouth feel. "If you get our bourbon," he says, "it's literally as if you went up to the barrel and pulled it out yourself. We don't add a drop of water. We don't filter it. Nothin'."

The business model for most microdistilleries seems simple enough: go from local to national and then hope someone big buys you out. As Tuthilltown expanded from one state to 10, its bourbon sales shot from $8,000 in 2006 to $450,000 in 2009, when spirits giant William Grant & Sons called. Soon the whiskey brands were sold in a deal that could yield the owners $15 million. Chad Kurland, a Big Apple landlord who invested in Tuthilltown before the deal, says the decision was not "for the faint of heart financially," but he was sold on liquor's recession-proof reputation, the artisanal angle and the rare marriage of New York and whiskey. "Nobody contemplated that we'd be successful," Erenzo says.

Washington State's Woodinville distillery may also be on the expansion track. After taking in $140,000 in 2010, the company hit revenue of $1.3 million in 2011 and has plans to double that in 2012. Though Orlin Sorensen and his partner make other spirits, they expect bourbon to bring in half their proceeds this year and more going forward. "If there's an opportunity," Sorensen, a former Alaska Airlines pilot, says of a big company's knocking at their door, "I don't think we'd turn away from the conversation." As with many young micros, most of their early sales were made on-site at their distillery, which is tucked in among wineries outside Seattle.

Then there's the model of a bourbon like Pappy Van Winkle: cash in on exclusivity by keeping supply low. At the Garrison Brothers Distillery, revenue leaped from $125,000 in 2010 to $550,000 in 2011, after the company was saved in the early days by investments from family and friends. Founder Dan Garrison, a former marketing director with a penchant for Stetsons, advises vendors to sell the company's bourbon at a wallet-lightening $69.95 price point but has seen it priced as high as $98. He says there are no plans to expand beyond the Lone Star State: "We think Texas is big enough for this little business." Confining the bourbon to Texas might actually add to its allure, and its price. "When you plan bourbon," he says, "you have to think in terms of decades."

Back at MB Roland, the bourbon comes in hand-numbered, pint-size bottles bearing a picture of the Tomaszewskis' friendly border collie Cass and is capped with a red wax seal. The owners steer a very small ship: they expect to make only 400 gal. this year. Doubling production in their fridge-size still wouldn't kill their cachet, says Tomaszewski. It would just mean going from "a little to a little bit more." Sales are small too: they rose from $120,000 to $210,000 in 2011; the Tomaszewskis hope to bring in $400,000 this year. For now, the young company still relies on unaged spirits like pink-lemonade moonshine to pay the bills, but the owners have turned down multiple offers from venture capitalists for fear they'd lose control of their business. "Come hell or high water," Tomaszewski says, "we're going to grow our bourbon."

Little Bitty Bourbon












Monday, Mar. 12, 2012
4. The Rise Of The Nones
By Amy Sullivan

In the tiny coastal town of La Misin on Mexico's Baja peninsula, dozens of American expats meet for a Sunday gathering they call Not Church. Many of them long ago gave up on traditional religious institutions. But they function as a congregation often does--engaging one another in spiritual conversation and prayer, delivering food when someone is sick and working together to serve the poor.

On a recent Sunday the group, which began as a monthly discussion about a year ago, featured a sunny-haired ordained Presbyterian named Erin Dunigan delivering a sermon about tomatoes and God's call to Samuel. (Organized religion, she told them, can be like supermarket tomatoes--flavorless and tough. That isn't a reason to give up on religion, or tomatoes, but instead to find a fresh, local version worth cultivating.) "It was beautiful," Dunigan says. "The people who don't want anything to do with the church or religion were the people who were leading everyone else in the service."

These expats provide an example of a very American trend: turning away from organized religion and yet seeking rich if unorthodox ways to build spiritual lives. The fastest-growing religious group in the U.S. is the category of people who say they have no religious affiliation. Sometimes called "the nones" by social scientists, their numbers have more than doubled since 1990; major surveys put them at 16% of the population. But as the Not Church community shows, many of those who have given up on organized religion have not given up on faith. Only 4% of Americans identify as atheist or agnostic.

Diana Butler Bass's new book Christianity After Religion notes that the past decade has been particularly challenging for organized religion in the U.S., from the Catholic sex-abuse scandal to the entanglement of faith in heated political campaigns--resulting in a "sort of 'participation crash.'" Nearly every religious tradition has suffered. Even some megachurches, which pride themselves on marketing to people turned off by traditional religion, have floundered.

But the hunger for spiritual connection and community hasn't gone away. A 2009 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life asked respondents whether they believed in God, how often they prayed and whether they were affiliated with a particular religion; it found that "40% of the unaffiliated people were fairly religious," says director Luis Lugo. "Many said they were still hoping to eventually find the right religious home."

That resonates with Dunigan, 40, who acts as a sort of unofficial chaplain for the Not Church members. "My sense is that for most, they're not rejecting God," she says. "They're rejecting organized religion as being rigid and dogmatic."

The U.S. has a long tradition of producing spiritual innovators and entrepreneurs. Today they're the organizers in the emergent-church movement, an effort by younger Christian leaders (there's a similar movement among Jews) to take religion away from musty pews and fierce theological fights by creating small worship communities that often meet in members' homes.

For traditional religious institutions, the challenge is how to adapt to this trend rather than fight it.

Dunigan has the support of the Presbyterian Church, which agreed to ordain her as an "evangelist," a designation rarely used these days for clergy serving Americans. That ordination is already affecting the views of her ad hoc congregation. Says Dunigan: "It allows the folks that I spend time with to say, 'If organized religion is willing to try something new, maybe I should give organized religion a chance.'"




このような母国を出た人たちが、非常にアメリカ的な傾向を示す。既成の宗教に背を向けながらも、オーソドックスな方法でない、宗教的な生活を送る豊かな方法を探ろうとしている。米国で急成長している宗教グループは、どの宗派にも属さないという人たちだ。社会学者は彼らを「非教会派」と呼ぶ場合もあり、その数は1990年から倍以上に増えた。大規模な調査によると、人口の16%に上るという。しかし非教会団体(No Church Community)が示しているように、既成の宗教を見限った人たちも信仰を捨てたわけではない。米国市民の4%だけが無神論者あるいは不可知論者を自称している。







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