Tag: Culture

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Does the Net Necessitate Social Media?

It’s the question I seriously ask in context of web users’ constant state of distraction and increasing inability to concentrate for long periods. Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains looks at this state of distraction. I’ve blogged posts: “Internet Attention Deficit Disorder” and “Of Course, Technology Changes You.” Are people losing their minds, so to speak, only to gain another—group mind—through online social interaction?

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‘Hey, Buddy, You Can’t Poop There’

While shaving this morning, I heard someone outside talking to his dog: “Hey, buddy, you can’t poop there”. Yeah, like the dog understands what the guy is saying. Owners’ actions—letting a dog do its business anywhere it pleases and then cleaning up the dodo with a baggie—reinforce the animal’s poop-anywhere behavior. Dogs are responsive to humans. This owner, and the many others I see here in California, train their animals to behave a certain way: Poop anytime, anywhere they want. Outside the residence, of course. 🙂

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Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Choice

Yesterday’s New York Times story, “The Gilded Age of Home Schooling“, looks at the practice from a lifestyle choice. The lead gets right to the point: “In what is an elite tweak on homeschooling—and a throwback to the gilded days of education by governess or tutor—growing numbers of families are choosing the ultimate in private school: hiring teachers to educate their children in their own homes”.

Well, that sure blows the hell out of homeschooling as a religious or philosophical choice. And I agree with the Times take. The tutor approach often is about lifestyle, such as people who travel. “Many say they have no argument with ordinary education—it just does not fit their lifestyle”. 

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My Stay in Monaco

This week I’m in San Francisco. It’s a work trip, visiting companies that want to know more about Windows Vista and Office 2007. Today, the big question, “When will Windows Vista ship?” I advised betting against January 2007.

Anyway, my posh hotel sucks. I had a heck of a time finding a place in downtown San Francisco with rooms available for all three days of my business trip. I scoured online services like Expedia and Hotels.com and then directly called Marriott and Starwood, for which I am members of their “rewards” programs. Based on a Marriott recommendation, I ended up at the Monaco, a Kimpton hotel that is a few blocks off Union Square—for $300 a night! Geez. 

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Yeah, I’m Angry

Family friends run a construction business. The husband, who is from Central America, sees a fair number of people looking to take advantage of Hispanic business owners and workers. The presumption is Hispanic means illegal immigrant. And if the, uh, American doesn’t pay, there’s nothing the illegal can do. In fact, there often are threats about turning in the Hispanic immigrant to US authorities.

Now, this man is legal. He has a green card and runs an honest business. But he witnesses plenty of discrimination against Hispanics and gets some of it, too. I mention this because, one, it really pisses me off and, two, there is this immigration debate raging on Capitol Hill. 

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You Are Here

Uh-oh. Young adults may know their way around MySpace, but National Geographic says they don’t know New York from Iraq. Half of 18-24 year olds can’t find New York on a map and only 37 percent know where is Iraq. Uh, don’t we have a whole lot of troops there?

Oh my. Forty-eight percent of young adults think—OMG—India is populated by Muslims! And I suppose they think the same Indians who live there are Native Americans. 

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Bean-hole Beans

It’s Saturday, and that means baked beans throughout Northern Maine. Most grocery stores sell fresh-baked beans (no canned stuff) and bread hot from the oven. It’s longstanding tradition with roots going back to the Pilgrims/Puritans. The tradition mingles with another: Bean-hole Beans.

Early Massachusetts settlers adopted the Native American tradition of baking beans in pots buried in the ground. For the religious folk, beans baked overnight would feed people on the Sabbath, the day of rest, which started on Saturday evening. The Puritans adapted Native bean recipes, also replacing—or rather changing—corn bread for brown bread. Nearly 400 hundred years later, throughout much of Maine, the tradition of Saturday night baked beans is steadfastly observed, with family replacing religion.

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Funerary Relief Bust Lament

I took my daughter and her friend downtown today, hoping to catch some remnant of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. But there was none. Day before, my daughter and I braved the steady (and pelting rain) for a few short hours. We gave up on the parade, but managed to shop the merchandise along Pennsylvania Ave. I bought her a kimono jacket and trinkets.

But, today, cars rather than merchants filled Pennsylvania Ave. So we continued the walk up 12th Street to the National Mall. For young girls the mall means someplace to shop, so I explained the difference of this Mall. I have yet to break my daughter of calling the Washington Monument, which flanks one end of the Mall, the “big pointy thing”.