Monday, February 2, 2009

Egg or Dinosaur?

The younger boy has recently decided to do a trial of the online Warcraft game. It looks pretty snazzy, but not surprisingly seems to have pretty much the same online behavior of the boys’ previous Everquest favorite. Watching him play, and seeing the online messages flow across, with their usual level of juvenile silliness (about the same as talk-radio or Congressional dialogue, really) I wondered again if the online stuff contributes to this or merely shows it off. Seems to me that there’s been increasing amounts of what we might call ‘socially-poorly-trained’ kids over the course of my life, and this seems reflected in online etiquette. Back in my day, Usenet was a haven for genteel, thoughtful, reasoned discourse, where opinions were carefully considered and assertions were never made without a solid factual basis to support them. Bwa-ha-ha! Actually, judging by the writings that have come down to us from the earliest days of history, the only real difference between then and now is that guys like Rush Limbaugh would likely have ended up in the Euphrates in a sack along with a few stones or an alligator. Kids are always a terrible disappointment to their parents, dating back to (take your pick) Adam’s boys or the earliest proto-human kids who drove their parents nuts with their reckless “bipedalism” and “tool-using”. “No good will come of this wild, rebellious craziness!” I can see the clan elders grumbling to each other in whatever collection of hoots and growls they preferred to use – “My father was a knuckle-walker, and his father before him! That should be good enough for any of us hominids! And these painted trollops they hang out with! Why I saw one of those hussies actually smearing a red berry on her lips! My heart!” Then the jaguar dragged him off, but his point had been made. And it’s only been downhill ever since.

Posted by JohnR at 10:06 AM

Labels: kids, today


Thursday, February 5, 2009

What is a citizen?

It seems to be a normal human drive to want everything while giving nothing. We learn as children (well, some of us do) that we have to settle for getting less than we would like while contributing in some way toward our group. “Our group” is first family, then friends, then other groups such as school, clubs, community, employer, and then others along those lines. I’m afraid that for most of the people who live in the area called the United States, the “Real America” is defined pretty narrowly indeed, and only those who are “Real Americans” deserve to share in the rewards of citizenship. Even then, shouldering the responsibilities that go with belonging to the group seems to be something for someone else – surprisingly often those who are not “Real Americans”. My kids really don’t like doing chores, just like I didn’t either (and still don’t), but somebody has to clean up, take out the trash, wash the dishes, clean the toilets and pay the bills. It’s not “men’s work” or “women’s work” or “CEO work” or “janitor’s work”. It’s just work, and it’s got to get done by whoever is available to do it. But it should be done as well as you can do it, and it wouldn’t hurt the more arrogant and “entitled” among us to read some of the teachings of one of the more famous Christian prophets – that fellow Jesus.

Posted by JohnR at 12:10 PM

Labels: fall, pride

Friday, February 6, 2009

Is there a euphemism for “euphemism”?

I’ve never understood how something awful can be turned into something acceptable simply by changing the name and/or definition. I’m surprised that we haven’t seen big ads announcing that “Hell” is now “Happy Fuzzybunnyland” and it is now a place where “enhanced enjoyment opportunities” abound. Probably including all the light beer and diet soda you can drink – and more!

Posted by JohnR at 5:40 AM

Labels: labels, reality

Monday, February 9, 2009

But it’s not against any religion..

So, Spring is here (for, what – the third or fourth time this winter?) but this time, I think, for real. The Grackles showed up in our backyard this weekend, which I have learned is the infallible sign that winter is finally over. I’m glad; those wild mood swings between 80 degrees and 20 degrees (F) were starting to get to me. I’m not the only one, either – I saw some Robins yesterday, but they looked decidedly nervous. I wonder how many of the bunch that showed up here a few weeks ago managed to survive the subsequent week-long freeze. Anyway, we’re back on schedule – it was a beautiful March weekend; light jacket weather, and a bit of a breeze to keep the blood pumping. We got out for a bit of a stroll in the local park, along with a handful of other folks taking the air, and a dirt biker taking the pleasure out of it for all of us. Those folks tend to complain that there’s nowhere else for them to ride, as if that makes a difference. I fantasize about getting a permit and going deer hunting in their backyards with the same excuse. Probably not wise, though; I might be outgunned around here. There were a couple of noteworthy bird sightings – the first was last week during a cold spell: a dead rabbit or cat squished in the middle of the road, but this one was unusual in that a Crow was hunkered down right in the corpus, snacking in comfort, and eyeing the oncoming traffic with a challenging look. I was tempted to twitch the wheel, but manfully resisted. The next day, though, there were 2 bodies there, one of which was black and feathery. Not everyone is as strong-willed as me, I guess. The second noteworthy thing, which I allowed myself to be too distracted by, was when I was heading home at dusk on Saturday evening and as I was passing the front of the hospital, a Peregrine swooped over the road and fluttered up onto the edge of the building. I was so busy admiring that that I didn’t realize that the light was changing so I blew through a red light. Luckily, people here know to expect that, so just like in New England, nobody moves for a bit after the light changes to allow the red-runners to finish going through. I have to watch that, though – there are always a lot of out-of-towners around the hospital, and many of them come from places where traffic laws actually mean something. I guess, thinking about the Peregrine for a second, that this makes it pretty certain that we’re going to have a nesting pair this year. That will be cool.

Posted by JohnR at 6:09 AM

Labels: Peregrines, Spring, traffic


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

..but true

I’m sometimes accused of triteness, simply because I unfortunately suffer from congenital PWS (pompous writing syndrome). Oh, the pain, the pain. Still, one must bear up manfully under even this crushing burden and I’ve tried hard to make lemonade with my prose, even if I can’t aspire to the greatness of, say, a Frank (Fred? Bob?) Hiatt or that other guy whose name I always forget. I like to point out to my detractors that it’s often the most obvious observation which is most commonly overlooked, and I am simply in my own small way attempting to be a constant source of useful platitudes and over-used aphorisms. I’m being modest, of course – in my dreams, I am become a Master – nay, the very Buddha – of Trite. Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out a way to get paid for my pearls of common-knowledge wisdom, but perhaps I should study at the feet of the GOP masters who have mastered the art of turning incoherent, blatantly false and self-contradictory beliefs into purest gold. If they can do that, surely I can manage to turn actually real, useful advice into some baser metal like copper or nickel.

Posted by JohnR at 1:16 PM

Labels: nah, it, will, never, work


On seeing a neighbor’s new Porsche

I love fortune cookies. The ideal fortune cookie is perfect when you get it, but wildly inappropriate when it goes to somebody else.

Posted by JohnR at 6:04 AM

Labels: jealousy, selfish


Friday, February 13, 2009

What’s it gonna be, boy?

Funny about being human; it’s so easy to slip into “yes or no” thinking, as if the world is set up that way. It’s easier than using the brain, but every time I try to dig into a choice, I come back to this idea of points on a continuum. Take “alive or dead” – surely that’s a simple yes or no, right (other than in The Princess Bride). Well, yes, but (here’s the inevitable yah-buttal) what about a stopped heart? Alive or dead, when cardiac paddles are routinely used to restart hearts? Were they “dead” for a while, if the body and brain were still functioning? What about stopped heart, not breathing? What about body working fine, but no higher brain functions (cf Terry Schiavo)? What about a body that needs machines to keep it working? What determines “death”? No brain function at all? No “higher” brain function? No heart/lung action (is that a cause, a definition or a side effect)? Pick any sort of choice at random, in any field of human activity or belief, and see if it really is a simple yes/no. I guess it depends on your philosophy as to whether you try to appreciate the complexity of the Universe, or you feel more comfortable forcing complicated ideas into a simple, easy-to-understand box.

Posted by JohnR at 6:44 AM

Labels: huh

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