Category Archives: Culture

Turkey Time!

It’s Thanksgiving in the old US of A.  I love Thanksgiving not just for the food, but for the cooking of the food.  Yes, I love to cook, and I always look forward to a day in the kitchen.  Sounds odd right?

In modern America, being a foodie is a badge of honor, but that means eating out not cooking in.  Forget that mess.  Eating out is okay when I’m too tired to cook, but the food tastes so much better when you make it at home.

So this Thanksgiving I am thankful for my kitchen.  It has plenty of storage, and counter space, and all the utensils and condiments I need to create a traditional Thanksgiving feast.

So while you’re driving miles down the highway to your in-law’s house to avoid cooking, I’ll be in the kitchen humming away and enjoying the tastes and smells.

My wife will be watching football or one of those boring Thanksgiving Day parades, rolling her eyes at me for enjoying the kitchen.

Of course, I’ll get the last laugh.  Afterwards, while I’m lounging on the couch in a turkey-induced haze, she’ll be on cleanup duty.

I cook, you clean — it’s the best deal I ever made.

 

 

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Filed under Culture, Holidays, musings

I am a Loser

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Some lady yelled “Loser!” at me the other day.  I don’t know why.  I was driving well within the speed limit.

Then I got to thinking maybe she was right.  My mom always told me that I’d lose my brain if it wasn’t attached.  Come to think of it, my wife tells me all the time that I’ve lost my mind.  Hmmm.  They can’t both be right, can they?

And I realized:  the older I get, the bigger a loser I become.  I’m constantly losing my keys, or my glasses, or forgetting where I set down my glass of water.  Just the other day, I lost my glasses, and then I found them on my head.  Good thing they were attached.

So calling someone a loser is considered an insult, but is being a loser a bad thing?  You win some, and you lose some, right?  We’re all losers at some point, and hopefully we learn from the experience.

So when someone calls me a loser, what they are really saying is that I am full of hard-earned wisdom.

Yes, that lady the other day saw me as a wise man, like Socrates or the guy that invented the Reese’s cup.  That was one perceptive lady.

 

 

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Filed under Culture, Philosophy, Society

Guess What I’m Having for Dinner?

I talk about all my favorite things on this blog except food.  Why you ask? (you know I’m going to tell you anyway.)

My brain works in peculiar ways, and I often feel it is just as important to explain why I don’t do things than it is to explain why I do.  This habit has been reinforced over the years by having to explain to my wife why I didn’t wash the dishes, or any number of other tasks that I should have done in her estimation. (sound familiar?)

So why don’t I blog about food and cooking?

Cooking is actually one of my favorite things.  I love to cook and share food with friends, but there is a difference between sharing food with a friend and the food videos I see all over the internet.  Here’s the difference:

I like to play a game with my mom when we talk on the phone.  If I made something for dinner that I know she loves, I’ll say “guess what we’re having for dinner?”  Then I’ll describe the dish in detail and, of course, invite her over to share the meal.  My mother lives six hours away.  So, in essence, I’m rubbing her face in it.  I’m saying “Nah, nah!  See what I got and you don’t.”  If I really want to get her goat, I’ll take a picture and text it to her.  Of course, she does the same to me.

Those food videos and pictures all over the internet are basically the same thing — “Look what I got!”  Oh yeah, you can have some too.  Just rummage through the pantry and try to find all these ingredients (Who keeps capers in their pantry anyway?).  And good luck getting it right!

Don’t show me food that I can’t eat.    It’s like going to a topless bar (or watching Magic Mike for you ladies I suppose).  What’s the point?

So I’ve decided that I will start a food blog just as soon as someone develops a food replicator like in Star Trek.  I’ll happily share my food with you online.  I’ll just shove a slice of lasagna in the chute, and you can pull it out of your replicator without having to rummage through the pantry.

Until that happens, I guess you’ll just have to come to Charlotte if you want to check out my cooking.  Tonight we’re having BLT’s.  See you at seven.

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Filed under Culture, musings, Society

Politeness is a Virtue

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I just finished reading The Way of the Samurai by Inazo Nitobe.  Nitobe was of the samurai class in Japan but was western educated.  He wrote The Way of the Samurai in English in 1900 around the time Japan was westernizing.  Nitobe does a good job of explaining the philosophy of the samurai as it relates to western civilization.  Specifically, he compares the ways of the samurai warrior to that of medieval knights in Europe, and compares Japanese culture and philosophy to the christian west.

Not surprising, he describes the Japanese as being more culturally focused, whereas westerners are more individually focused.  He does this without judgement.

The bulk of the book is taken up with explanations of the virtues to which the samurai adhered.  These virtues are: Rectitude, Courage, Benevolence, Politeness, Veracity, Sincerity, Honor, and the Duty of Loyalty.  As I read this book, the virtue that resonated with me the most was Politeness.

If you watch Japanese anime, news from Japan, Japanese shows, or know someone Japanese, politeness is probably one of the first things you notice.  The Japanese are polite, and it is a sharp contrast to American culture.  It could be argued that politeness is disappearing from American culture.

According to Nitobe, “Politeness is a poor virtue, if it is actuated only by a fear of offending good taste, whereas it should be the outward manifestation of a sympathetic regard for the feeling of others. . . In its highest form, politeness almost approaches love.”

So it seems that the samurai virtue of politeness is not much different than the Golden Rule that we were all taught as children.  You know, the ole mind your manners and love your neighbor shtick that seems to be going out of style.

For a true samurai, using his sword was the last resort, not the first instinct.  Virtues, such as politeness, came first.  Hmm, maybe we could try that for a change.

 

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Filed under Books, Culture, Philosophy, Society

No New Tale to Tell

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I was riding in the car the other day and a familiar song came over the radio:

“No New Tale to Tell” by Love and Rockets from their Earth, Sun, Moon album.

At the time, my brain was hopping around like a frog trying to avoid capture.  (Like the tree frog that got into my house the other day, and it took me several tries to get it back out again.)  I was thinking about my recent writing and marketing efforts when the following verses played:

My world is your world
People like to hear their names
I’m no exception
Please call my name
Call my name

My mind jumped to the thought:

Is that why I write?  Is that why people do crazy things on the internet, or in life?  Are we all just trying to be recognized? (For the record, I don’t know.)

Then came the refrain:

No new tale to tell
No new tale to tell
No new tale to tell

That is exactly what I wanted to tell a person the other day in one of my online writers groups.  They were worrying about sharing their work with other writers for fear the other writers would steal their ideas.  I just wanted to shout at them: No new tale to tell!  There are no new ideas, just new versions of the same old stories.  How many times have you seen The Lord of the Rings retold in the fantasy genre?  Let them have the idea, just write it better.

Then came the verse:

When you’re down
It’s a long way up
When you’re up
It’s a long way down

It’s all the same thing
No new tale to tell

Yep, it’s long way up, and down.  Everyone started somewhere and will end somewhere. Hopefully, I’ll end with several readers.  It’s funny how songs sometimes just hit the mark on where you’re brain is currently hopping.

If you’ve never heard of Love and Rockets, you should give them a listen.  They are an alternative rock band from the late eighties.  I own three of their CD’s, and like all the songs.  Here a a few of my favorites:

“Here on Earth”, “Welcome Tomorrow”, “An American Dream”, “No Big Deal”, “So Alive”, and “Holiday on the Moon”

Look them up, check them out, and enjoy.

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Filed under Culture, Music Mondays, Writing

Writing Ideas

Where do your writing ideas come from?  For a long time I didn’t really have an answer for that question.  Where did they come from?  Imagination, yeah of course, but what was the spark that brought the idea to life?

Many of my stories, especially my short stories, have come from writing prompts.  I’ve belonged to a few writers groups over the years, and several of them utilized writing prompts to help get the writing juices flowing.  It has worked for my short story ideas, and at least one of my novels started that way too.

One of my problems is figuring out what to blog about.  Writing prompts don’t cut it as blogging topics.  So where do bloggers find their material?

Recently, I was looking for a way to get unbiased news.  I went online and checked media bias websites AllSides and Media Bias/Fact Check and put together a list of media outlets that were considered least biased.  I put together my list on feedly and that’s where I get my daily news now.  It has actually cut down my stress from reading the news, because for some reason I’m not getting pissed off anymore.  Who knew there was so much biased opinion floating around on the internet.

A huge side benefit to this plan is that my news feed is giving me all kinds of great ideas for blog (and Facebook) posts.  Who knew that the news could actually be informative, enjoyable, and useful?

 

 

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Filed under Blog, Culture, Society, Writing

Is AI Bad?

Recently, several companies that work with developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) sent an open letter to the UN.  The letter was to voice concerns over the use of AI in weapons.  These companies are concerned that AI will be used to develop weapons that will act independently of humans.  They call it the “third revolution in warfare” which will “permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend.”

This is scary stuff, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that this is a possibility.  Especially if you have read or watched much science fiction over the last few decades.  Most people would probably point to the Terminator movie franchise as an example where Skynet takes over the world from humans.  There are other examples, for me the first one that got me thinking about this topic was 2001: A Space Odyssey.

HAL

I’m Sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

HAL’s monotone voice only enhanced the creepy factor.  There was no obvious malice involved HAL’s non-compliance, was there?

2001: A Space Odyssey came out in 1968.   I remember watching it as a kid and thinking it was weird, but that voice has stayed with me since.

Over the years, there have been several movies that took on the AI question:

  • Wargames (1983) – AI bad.
  • Terminator (1984) – AI bad. (First movie bad, but mixed in later movies with “good” terminator)
  • Maximum Overdrive (1986) – AI bad. (Of course this one is a bit campy, but it does have AC/DC music)
  • The Matrix (1999) – AI mixed. (First movie bad, but got mixed up in later movies)
  • AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001) – AI good.
  • I Robot (2004) – AI mixed.
  • Chappie (2015) – AI good.

The AI comments are mine (you may not agree).  I’m sure there are other movies that I didn’t see, but there seems to be a trend where AI is becoming more acceptable, less scary (in the movies at least).  What does this mean about the acceptance of AI in our society?

I’m with the letter writers.  Yes, Artificial Intelligence is cool, but it is way too scary for me to be happy about it being developed.  A couple of recent developments reinforce my concern:

While human intelligence maybe somewhat of an oxymoron at times, I say let’s keep the robot programming simple, and let people think for themselves.  Who’s with me?

Hey, what’s that button?

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Filed under Culture, Philosophy, Science Fiction, Society