What Your House Says About Your Politics

I'm not talking big house vs. small house -- that's too easy, and simplistic. A new study in The Journal of Political Psychology looks at the state of your house -- are you messy or a neatnik? -- and what that says about your politics. According to the study, liberals are messier, conservatives neater. Liberals' homes tend to be "colorful and awash in books about travel, ethnicity, feminism and music, along with music CDs covering folk, classic and modern rock, as well as art supplies, movie tickets and travel memorabilia." Items you're more likely to find around a conservative's home include "calendars, postage stamps, laundry baskets, irons and sewing materials."

I'm not sure what this says about me -- I'm pretty liberal, but unless I'm in the midst of some huge project, my house is usually pretty clean. (The study's predictions about my library and music collection are spot-on, however.) I have an iron and a full-size ironing board, perhaps a rare item for an urban-dwelling late-20s dude.

The study moves from the conservative living room into other parts of the conservative home, where "bedrooms and offices are well-lighted and decorated with sports paraphernalia and flags—especially American ones." Using myself as the liberal litmus test, I have to admit that the above sounds nothing like my bedroom or office -- no flags or sports paraphernalia of any kind. (I'm an absolute sports moron.) When it comes to lighting, it depends on what they mean by "well-lit" -- I despise bright overhead light, preferring numerous low-key sources spread around the room. Dark spots are OK.

So what do the living situations of liberals and conservatives say about them -- at least, according to this isolated study? The researchers concluded that "liberals gravitate toward art and things that aren't as concrete," whereas conservatives "have a need for order" and despise "ambiguity," which is expressed by "being more orderly, having more cleaning supplies, needing to have everything lined up and organized so that one feels one's environment is predictable and therefore safe."

We want to hear from you -- does your living space line up with your politics, as defined by this study? Or are you a neat liberal or a messy conservative?

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


More from mental floss studios