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Found 17 results

  1. This is an interesting moment: I just this minute realized that Keith Haring was white - although I haven't thought about this much, I think I always assumed he was black (also, I always assumed he was British). Is this subtle racism? It wasn't malevolent, but it's fascinating to me because I have no clue why. And you know what else? As I'm typing, I think I might have assumed Banksy was black also (I don't think I've ever pondered it until now). Maybe this is all because of Basquiat? Or maybe covert discrimination is so deeply ingrained that it has insidiously flowed into me? Every tagger that I've personally known has been white, so I'm not quite sure why I thought Haring wasn't. Point to ponder, Cool Disco Don PS - If this was truly a surprise, and I'm not convinced Sotheby's didn't know about it, then it's about the best prank I've ever seen:
  2. Here's an article today from Slate about judging a restaurant from the outside. Since it's about food I clicked (bait: accepted!) and it was...fine. The usual tips (curated menu, attention to provenance, matching the restaurant decor/location to mission/theme, long lines, people of the same presented ethnicity eating there, etc.) , which more food-centric folks would already be well familiar with, resonated, albeit weakly because <shrug> we already know all this! But there was also a judgy section that bugged me - not about restaurants, but diners: These initial quick judgments usually take a few seconds, at which point we walk over to the posted menu and study it like the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here’s what you don’t want to see: everything. This isn’t a food court, and while figuring out what you want to do in life is often a long journey for people, restaurants should have this decided far before the menu is printed. “When it’s too cross-cultural, when it’s too all over the place, that’s an issue. There’s a restaurant I’m thinking of right now that has fettucine Alfredo with your choice of shrimp, chicken, or salmon. You’re like, ‘OK, that’s not a good sign,’ ” says Stowell. “That’s the way people used to eat in the ’80s: They would offer everything for everybody, and let them combine it how they want. But we’ve gone away from that and more toward, ‘We’re going to guide you to what’s good.’ If you’re everything for everybody you’re usually nothing for nobody.” Emphasis mine, on the lines I thought were unnecessarily reductive. I know a lot of these people!! They simply don't care about food as much as me, and derive much more of their dining utility from getting things just their way on a (perhaps a rare) night out. Which is fine, and it doesn't necessarily (but can, and that is also fine!) mean that they don't want high-quality food, or ambiance, or overall experience! And besides, who, exactly, is the audience for an article about how to pick a restaurant? People who care a lot about picking a restaurant will already know these very general guidelines or have their own, much more relevant metrics, so those that could most benefit from learning about these ideas to improve their dining experience are likely the very people being (gently, I concede) mocked as being decades out of touch. Anyway, I probably just wanted to pontificate this morning, but this section of the article really rubbed me the wrong way. Since I've gotten older, and moved to a more conservative area, and become a parent, etc., I've met and dined with many more types of people (than my City-dwelling, free-wheeling, proto-hipster, semi-rabid insistent days on authenticity and excellence), with lots more (and valid) dining preferences. I'm much more viscerally aware that more/most of America (especially away from the coasts) is occupied by people who, while more aware of food culture than in the pre-Food Network and Insta days, simply don't give food as much head space as me and are happiest when they can get exactly what they want, when they want. Holding their preferences in contempt is pointless and mean, and these days more than ever, I think, every kindness counts. (I'm aware that I am more sensitive to this perhaps perceived issue because I lost a friend back in the day after a meal at a wonderful DC restaurant during which I was, mostly unwittingly, a total a** about her food choices and naiveté, and I really wish I could go back and smack 20something me for being a jerk.)
  3. This is an extremely poignant, almost tragic, interview with Frank Luntz: Mar 26, 2019 - "Republican Strategist Frank Luntz on Toxic Politics" on pbs.org (Frank may have been "a Republican," but it isn't accurate to call him that now.)
  4. So, about Allen Funt's theatrical, x-rated version of "Candid Camera" - the 1970 film, "What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?" The first actor in this trailer sure looks like a younger version of the guy in "Kentucky Fried Movie" (1977) being on the receiving end of Feel-Around.
  5. A cool looking exhibition at National Geographic. This is a ticketed exhibition, available on the National Geographic website. Queens of Egypt "Travel back in time with National Geographic to visit ancient Egypt, one of the world’s greatest civilizations, and get to know some of its lesser-known leaders—Egypt’s mighty queens. Learn about the hidden role of women in all aspects of Egyptian society. Meet seven Egyptian queens whose impact helped shape both the ancient and modern worlds. Then travel in the footsteps of women through their daily lives and into their tombs on their journeys to reach the afterlife."
  6. Speaking of advances in carbon and plastics in sports ... Why all this fire-and-brimstone crap? Why not high-speed drill technology, or Goldfinger's laser? Or The Agony Booth - wouldn't it be sufficient to stick someone in there and just leave them for all eternity? Do we still have nerves that cause pain after we die? That's sort of weird. Does an exact copy of our body magically appear somewhere deep beneath the Earth's surface? I mean, this makes for a good horror tale, but I'm not quite sure I buy it. James Joyce does a fine job at scaring the shit out of people: "Now let us try for a moment to realize, as far as we can, the nature of that abode of the damned which the justice of an offended God has called into existence for the eternal punishment of sinners. Hell is a strait and dark and foul-smelling prison, an abode of demons and lost souls, filled with fire and smoke. The straitness of this prison house is expressly designed by God to punish those who refused to be bound by His laws. In earthly prisons the poor captive has at least some liberty of movement, were it only within the four walls of his cell or in the gloomy yard of his prison. Not so in hell. There, by reason of the great number of the damned, the prisoners are heaped together in their awful prison, the walls of which are said to be four thousand miles thick: and the damned are so utterly bound and helpless that, as a blessed saint, saint Anselm, writes in his book on similitudes, they are not even able to remove from the eye a worm that gnaws it." Seriously, what the hell have I done to deserve *this*? If God came floating through my door *right now*, I'd abandon all my worldly possessions, give him a blowjob, and essentially do whatever the hell he wanted me to do, no matter what it was (with my luck, it would turn out to be some horny space alien, masquerading as God) - but nobody other than my fellow human beings has ever given me orders about how I'm supposed to live my life! Kind of unfair to humanity, to have terrified them for so many millenia, don't you think? I mean, living for merely 80 years in an infinity of time is bad enough on its own (and if anyone believes "the universe is 15-billion years old," they're wrong). This "universe" is nothing more than a blip, and just because our puny brains don't understand infinity, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Is "time" ever going to end? Did it have a beginning? I don't think so. The "Big Bang" might have been "an event," but it was one of an infinite number of events. No, I can't prove it, but that makes about as much sense as rotting in hell (actually, if you "rot" in hell, then it wouldn't be eternal, would it?) If you think about it, "eternity" is another word for "infinity," and that surely stretches backwards as well as forwards (and probably sideways, and through other dimensions) - why wouldn't it? That kind of puts the kibosh on the seven-day theory, don't you think? --- On a related note, I like "The Little Bird of Svithjod" as a visualization technique for "eternity": High up in the north, in the land called Svithjod, there stands a rock. It is a hundred miles high and a hundred miles wide. Once every thousand years a little bird comes to this rock to sharpen its beak. When the rock has thus been worn away, then a single day of eternity will have gone by. From The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem Van Loon [The link just above calculates "one day in eternity" as 4.2 octillion years, FWIW. That number can be written as follows: 4,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000] --- I wonder what Zeus has to say about all of this. "Fucking pecker, coming along and trying to usurp me!" It's like what James Hunt must have thought about Niki Lauda.
  7. I'm leery to post this, but I'm fascinated in the generational changes in people's reactions to what are essentially two instances of the same story, 66-years apart. [Please don't be tempted into launching the obvious criticism, "X is a Y" - we should be above such a banal observation; this is more about change in peoples' attitudes over 2-3 generations.] In this article, click on the Life Magazine 1952 Story, entitled, "Martyrdom in Ecuador" - it really is a fascinating contrast. "Martyr, or 'American Dickhead?'" by Ruth Graham on slate.com I will say this, however: On a certain level, there isn't *that* much difference between what these missionaries did, and what Al-Qaeda has done - in both cases, they're prepared to destroy societies, as well as give up their own lives, in order to follow God's word. Compare and contrast with "The Three Hermits" by Tolstoy which you can read right here in five minutes.
  8. Honestly, I am amazed how few people stop at stop signs. On a daily basis, I pass many intersections where stop signs, or stop lights are regularly ignored and in several cases have caused accidents. I know the California-stop or coasting through a stop sign has become commonplace, but why?
  9. I'm curious what people think about the moral issues (based strictly on resource consumption) of people who have, say, ten children. (My mother had seven sisters, a brother, and some step-siblings, so I'm every bit as much a part of this as anyone else.) Given that there are simply too many people in this world (my own opinion, shared by many others), is it an act of selfishness to have a big family? Note that I'm not talking about government rules and regulations here; I'm merely talking about having a lot of kids. In general, I'm a bigger fan of "societal pressure" (e.g., mink coats have fallen out of fashion) than "regulation" (China's "one-child policy"). On the other hand, I despise political correctness (see this post) which is a form of societal pressure. But if the human population keeps growing, we're going to screw ourselves mightily. Isn't it ironic that by screwing each other, we end up screwing ourselves? Amazingly, this issue can be fixed in a single generation, but the workforce would need to shift from ob-gyn to mortuary. As a separate, but related, issue (logically extending from the preceding paragraph), is "burial" a selfish use of resources? (Both of my parents are buried in Aspen Hill, so again, I'm every bit as much a part of this as anyone else.) Personally, I'm not convinced that graveyards are an abuse of our land - in fact, I'm not convinced that they don't *protect* our land by preventing development - just like railroads (think of all the rails-to-trails programs - it turns out that the railway lines were unintentional conservators of the earth, and I think graveyards are the same way, assuming coffins are made from natural materials that decompose).
  10. Jul, 2014 - "The Pitchforks are Coming ... for Us Plutocrats" by Nick Hanauer on politico.com
  11. A few days ago, I tweeted this: "Serious question: Why can't a healthy person turn around, and say to the passenger behind them, 'Hi, would you mind if I reclined my seat?'" --- And I got two very different responses: 1) "If the person in front asked if I minded if they reclined their seat, I'd say that I did. Seats too damned close now." 2) "Because I purchased a reclinable seat. It's my option. Your problem is with the airline, not me." --- My original tweet (which was hindered by the 140-character limitation) had nothing to do with reclining seats, and everything to do with common courtesy - it was not unlike asking, "What's so hard about holding a door open for the person behind you?" However, it clearly touched some very raw nerves. Both of the replies are reasonable, and yet, both display a degree of selfishness. This is a systematic, industry-wide problem that must be stopped - and if it takes government intervention to stop it, then so be it. I don't know if it's the airlines "fault," but they're doing almost nothing to help the situation. Flying in this day and age is a miserable, unpleasant experience, and is turning normal people into monsters. I view this one, simple issue as being extremely important (and now I'm talking about the actual legroom, not merely "being polite") - the situation has created a war-like, every-man-for-himself mentality, and nobody has any concern for their fellow man or neighbor - it has become Me, Me, Me! But who can blame them? The situation in the skies is untenable. It is cruel, and it is humiliating. Last week, I got the center seat in an three-seat aisle - to my right was an obese woman; to my left was a morbidly obese woman (probably 400 pounds). It was physically impossible for her to stay in her seat, and when she fell asleep, it got even worse - I was wadded up like a roly-poly for almost five hours, and in a great deal of pain when I limped off of the airplane. Yet, I felt more sorry for her than I did for me - she didn't want this any more than I did. Back to my original tweet: I choose not to recline my seat, but if I were going to, I would *always* turn around and give the person some notice, and do it gently - I once had a laptop that was cracked from someone turbo-reclining their seat into me; all it would have taken to prevent that was some common sense and decency. The situation has made people *hate* other people. People they don't even know. And I refuse to let it turn me into one of "them." That said, if someone speed-reclines into me with no warning, and knocks over a drink, or breaks a laptop, they're going to hear about it. Yes, it's the airlines' fault (the passengers certainly didn't ask for this unwanted situation), but it's also the individuals' fault for letting this situation turn them into selfish, terrible people who care only about themselves, and don't display even a modicum of courtesy for their neighbor's well-being.
  12. "Philadelphia Convenience Store Clerk Hailed as Hero for Stopping Alleged Kidnapping" by Kelly Stevenson on abcnews.go.com Where is the dividing line between what this clerk did, and racial profiling? "Acting on a hunch" is very tenuous in my eyes - George Zimmerman pretty much said the same thing about Trayvon Martin. I honestly don't know the answer to this, and I'm very curious to hear other people's opinions on the scenario. Maybe the victim looked at the clerk, and briefly made her eyes as wide as saucers? That could certainly justify it, at least in my mind.
  13. "How Brunch Became The Most Delicious and Divisive Meal in America" by Roberto A. Ferdman and Christopher Ingraham on washingtonpost.com
  14. History seemed to be the best sub-category for this. Moderators feel free to move it as you see fit. Cemeteries are of interest to my wife and I. Full of history, art, landscaping, peace and solitude and more. We often visit cemeteries in our travels, to see what they look like, to see how the dead are honored, to find the oldest grave, looking for art, and getting away from where people are for some solitude and a connection to the space we are in - close to home or on our travels. Some cemeteries are hallow, like all of the military cemeteries filled with the dead of war and struggle. They are uniform (and honestly boring, visually) and give you pause to absorb the magnitude of loss due to war. Some are beautiful, like many in Germany - gardened and impeccably maintained. Some are above ground, like in New Orleans. Some are decrepit, like New Orleans. Some have amazing natural landscapes, like those in Savannah, GA. Others have rolling hills or small ponds. I love them all. We just got back from visiting Greenmount Cemetery and New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore, MD. Green mount seems older, and more hodgepodge, the way I like it. All of the tombstones are above ground (again my preference). Many of the graves date back to the early 1800s when it opened. It is almost full, too. It is a rolling set of hills, and surrounded by a high wall, keeping the hum of the city at bay. John Wilkes Booth is buried there, as is Enoch Pratt, among many other notables (famous or infamous). We saw 3 raptors until the grounds as well as a fox checking us out from a distance. Lots of funeral art and sculpture too. Very well maintained and place of solitude and peace. New Cathedral seems younger, at least where most are buried. And I think it is run by the arch diocese of Baltimore. The older areas are mostly near the top of the rolling hills. It is a bit of a tragedy that it is not better maintained. It is not poorly maintained, but there are headstones that need to be set more vertically and some leftover underbrush that needs dealing with. But there are SO MANY angels atop markers, some seem like copies from the statues of the bridges near the castle by the Vatican I swear. Part of my interest in cemeteries is rooted in a desire to follow our genealogy - easier to do in the USA for my wife, as most of my ancestors are in Europe. So we've explored for graves of her ancestors in Pennsylvania. But we stumbled upon Find-A-Grave. It is a website, now with an app, that lets you make requests for graves to be found for you, and where you, as a graveyard nerd, help others out by trying to find graves for others. It's fascinating. Anyone else a cemetery nerd?
  15. When I was a young child, younger than ten, my father took me to downtown Silver Spring where I used to get my haircuts. The man cutting my hair (a first-generation immigrant who had been cutting my hair for over a year) found a tick embedded deep in my scalp. He called my dad over and showed him. Then, he took the cigar that he was smoking, and put the burning end against the tick. No more tick. Painless, like he had done it a hundred times before. He was a barber.
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