Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Forum - Huntington, civilisation, language with a dash of verandahs

Today's Monday Forum is a another mixed forum, picking things up that may draw comment.

Over at his place, Winton muses on  How long will the "Clash of Civilizations" last?, a post triggered by the work of Samuel Phillips HuntingtonThe map is drawn from the Wikipedia entry on Huntington. I haven't read Huntington, but his views as reported strike me as dangerously simplistic in theory and what appears to be practice.

The Macquarie Dictionary word of the year competition is underway again.All dictionaries seem to do this now as a way of attracting publicity. So what are the new words that you most like or hate? Interested that phrases get quoted. I would have thought they were a completely different thing.

Down in Canberra, the creation of Border Force drags on, with the SES (Senior Executive Service) officers soon to learn who will be fired. The sword is expected to fall most heavily on the Immigration Department side. I know that we have talked about this one before, but who would want to work there in such unpleasant conditions?

I have continued beavering away on matters architectural.In a response to Sunday Essay – have Australian architects (and clients) become disconnected from the world in which they live?, kvd wrote:
Been to Lanyon; it wouldn't fit on your average quarter acre plot. A cut down version might, but then you'd be sitting on your verandah, staring into your next door neighbour's back/front yard, and bathroom, and listening to the dulcet tones of the toilet flush, intermingled with their stupid dog barking at you. 
You say homes "don't look out", but they developed from caves - the complete antithesis of looking out. 
Personally I like my verandah, but then, my next door neighbour is half a km away and, after 10 years, I still can't remember his name - which I regard as a good thing. We nod at each other maybe once a month; that's about the right amount of human interaction, I think.
He followed this up with:
Actually, thinking about it more, when I moved to this valley I "did the right thing" by introducing myself to the neighbours, and then in the village shortly after, my wife and I bumped into Bob, so I made introductions, as you do. 
"This is our neighbour Bob M". He replied "Robert, actually".

This is a guy who has won the Bathurst 500 (as it then was) and several other noisy things, but never reported as "Robert"; always "Bob". What to do? 
Anyway, now he breeds pigeons, and they regularly travel to my home, and shit on the roof, and stomp up and down cooing. Not that I mind too much, except I am actually on tank water, so it's sort of unsettling to think of all that pigeon shit that I shower in. 
Anyway, he's got a verandah as well, so I suppose that's sort of ok.
I have included the quotes because they amused me. However, they also raise another point, the changing nature of social interaction. Wandering around suburban streets, I have been struck by the lack of use of front verandahs. In many cases, they are the coolest place in the house at certain times during hot days, and are often set in nice surrounds. 

Verandahs came in in part because they shaded walls, stopping them heating. However, they were also social centres in the way that, say, the porch is in the US. So I was wondering when, in an Australian context, this usage stopped? 

Enough for now!


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