Our route to Pei curls and bounces over some of the steepest terrain and sharpest curves we’ve driven on our journey to date. Trucks loaded three stories tall with bamboo poles or cement bags, coconuts, or almost anything else you can think of blurp road dust out from under their oblong tires. As
Each time we arrive in a new country, I google to see if there are any cultural mores we might need to know about before we enter someone’s country and unintentionally do something equivalent to picking our nose and wiping a booger under the couch. These articles range from interesting tidbits, to
One thing that seems to be in short supply in America these days is respect. I mean respect for each other’s basic humanity. I guess it is largely because social media seems so anonymous, and can in fact be so, that I see so many cases of someone blaming entire groups of people (MAGA wearers, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Rastafarians, Pastafarians, Vegans, meat eaters, women, men, and whoever created mosquitoes, for examples.) I’ll tell you this right now, folks, if you do that, you’ve just lost your argument. Sure, it feels good, but it just shows your own weakness. Ironic, that. Anyway, interpersonal respect is what keeps a society functioning. Respect of authority isn’t it. Respect of social position isn’t it. Respect of wealth or job title isn’t it. It is simply respect for the basic humanity of another person. That is what we need to cultivate, and stat.
We might look to France for some guidance on this, because the French are very much committed to respecting each other’s basic humanity. My first morning ever in France, in 1976, I went to a change booth in a train station (no ATMs in those days) and received a stern lecture from the change lady on how to be polite in society. Fortunately for me, I took her lesson to heart. Not only in France, but after I returned home. I generally say hello, goodbye, please, and thank-you. For years I took that as basic courtesy, and was at first amazed at how much easier simply being polite made things. But, to the French, it is courtesy, yes, but also much more.
In France, the word for hello is “bonjour.” Literally that means “good day,” but it has been used as “hello” for so long that people had to adopt “bonne journée,” which originally meant “good trip you can take out and back in one day.” FYI. Anyhow, you first say “Good Day” and then you add, “Madame” or Monsieur.” Madame literally means “My Lady.” Monsieur literally means “My Lord.” So, no matter who you address in France, you are saying, “Hello, My Lady,” or “Hello, My Lord.” Sounds a bit over the top, but it works. If the President of France wants to speak to a beggar on the corner, the President must first say, “Hello, My Lord” or “Hello, My Lady.” Only then is it proper to begin a conversation. This is why sometimes Americans believe the French to be impolite: because in America we don’t go for such ceremony, and anyway, shouldn’t the shopkeeper say hello first? (Sometimes they do. I would, but it isn’t required.) No matter who you are addressing, it is assumed that you are invading their personal space, and you owe them the simple acknowledgement of that fact, which is to say, a polite greeting. Is the beggar on the corner a Lord or Lady? Probably not, but by using those terms, you grant them the basic dignity due to any human being.
When you combine this basic respect with the French educational goal of being able to discuss literally anything without getting personal, you end up with a polite society where it is considered normal to argue. (No, shopkeepers won’t argue with you. Once you’ve exchanged “bonjours” they’ll be so eager to help that you’ll almost feel guilty.) Imagine a society where arguments were not the Monty Python type (No they aren’t!) but rather reasoned and defensible. We could have that, if we respected each other. We certainly don’t need to go to the lengths of calling each other My Lord or My Lady. In fact, a bunch of patriots once fought a war for the right to eliminate Lords and Ladies. But we can still be respectful. A few suggestions:
- Don’t call people names. Not even if you hate them. Remember, as we writers occasionally point out, that everyone is the hero of their own story. You may not agree with their reasoning, but you can respect their right to an opinion without getting snarky.
- Say hello to everyone you expect to interact with, and to anyone on the street with whom you happen to lock eyes. And when you want something from someone, say “please,” and after you get it, say “thank-you.” and Maybe throw in a Sir or Ma’am to really seal the deal. (Yes, watered down versions of those old titles, but still appreciated.)
- Don’t blame groups, any groups, for society’s problems. We are all members of society, so we all contribute, each in our own way, to the problems. Boomers didn’t wreck the world (trust me,) nor are they any better than any other generation. We all have our quirks. Millenials aren’t lazy. Generation X has never slacked. And Generation Z, while pretty young yet, will make a great contribution (that history will forget) to the welfare of humankind. (Such generations always do. The last one invented rock and roll. They called them “silent,” ironically.)
- Don’t get over invested in a particular world view. For one thing, in philosophical terms, it’s as likely as not that you have some significant information wrong.
- Stay cool, stay respectful.
Ladies and Lords, we can do this. We can make America better simply be being mutually respectful. And, very importantly, by being respectful even of those who don’t respect us. In that case, remember, that’s their problem, not yours. Okay?
Great. Now go forth and be respectfully kind to each other! Thank you.
We enjoy a cozy sleep in the Opium Den, and wake to nosh on what is becoming one of my favorite savory breakfast items: the Thai chicken and sausage porridge. Taking the wheel of the rental car, I lean forward in my seat to scan the menagerie of traffic I must cross to depart the parking lot. “O
Chanting from the Laos side of the Mekong river woke me with sunrise. I stepped through our hotel door and found a seat on the grass outside to watch fog curl around the riverbank, rise to a soft mist then dissipate toward the mountains in the distance. We get on the road before breakfast, hoping
In an Earlier Post, I wrote about racism and its origins. Among other things, it is noteworthy that prior to enslaving Africans, Europeans never mentioned race at all. There were people in other places with dark skin, but that was as far as it went, because, who cared? Nobody. No reason to. Once you start doing wrong by people, though, you need to justify your actions to yourself. Enter race. The “Black Race” is clearly inferior, or else how could the “White Race” have enslaved them? Obviously, some serious genetic deficiencies are evident in the world. This was the worldview upon which the United States of America was founded. Even dour New Englanders were okay with other races being inferior to the “White Race.” They just didn’t think that this justified enslaving them. And, of course, we did benefit as a nation. Those slaves were instrumental in building the nation, whether they ever get credit for it or not. We eliminated slavery with our Civil War, but not the idea of racial superiority. Our laws covering cocaine, for instance, stem from an instance where somebody in Georgia axe murdered his family. He was “black,” and so the New York Times editorialized about “protecting our Negro brethren.” Yes, the New York Times. I once saw a post extolling the virtues of Ray Charles’s song, “Seven Spanish Angles,” in which the writer noted how Ray was backing up Willie Nelson on the piece. Trouble is, as Willie could tell you, Willie was backing up Ray, but the writer assumed the opposite, because, well, “Blacks” are inferior in every way, right? (Ray’s first gig was with a country band, for the record.)
So, what does this mean for Conservatives? Well, traditionally, America has benefited from a bogus structure of racism. It has allowed “White” people to enjoy tremendous prosperity, all the while they can not notice the underlying support they’re getting from “inferior” races. So, what Conservatives want to return to, to Make America Great Again, is simply the former mindless acceptance of a structure that suppressed a lot of minority people to the benefit of “White” people. In short, what Conservatives want to conserve is good old European-American racism. It’s really that simple. So when the current Republican leadership is accused of being racist, well, they are. No getting around it. Of course, there is a huge fly in the ointment of traditional racism.
That is that the game is up. As of a few months from now, there will be more “non-white” children in the United States than “white” children. (If you’re wondering about all the quotation marks, read my earlier post.) In another generation, those who insist on the superiority of the “White Race” are going to be seriously outnumbered. Fine with me, because I live in Clark County, Nevada, which is already a majority minority county. “White” folks have a plurality, but they cannot blindly dictate policy any more. The irony of the situation is that Vegas was once the “Mississippi of the West,” due to the extreme segregationist policies enforced here. Sammy Davis Junior had to go into the resort through the kitchen before presenting his sold-out shows. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. It can’t be, even though there are still plenty of people here who probably wish it could be. But, how could it?
The game being up explains the fierce following of MAGA folks. And I’m not calling them bad people, or stupid either, because bad and stupid people are everywhere. I am calling them victims of a centuries-old scheme of racism combined with a skillful application of populist propaganda. Too bad for them, really.
We could just wait it out and let things sort themselves out, of course. But the damage could be quite substantial to our institutions, prestige, and economic vigor. So, my advice is that all of us who see things for what they are get out there next year and vote those people out. Don’t start fighting over ideological purity, just put up someone we can all at least tolerate for a few years, and vote them out. Please!
I’ve been reposting Oddgodfrey (read Leslie Godfrey’s) posts since they took off almost three years ago to circumnavigate the planet. They’ve had some most excellent adventures, and no doubt about it. Well, do continue to follow them. They took off, just two in a 40-foot sailboat named Sonrisa, and went to the place where land is just a distant memory. (Remember when they posted their lattitude and longitude, and the result upon putting those into Google Maps was just a blue screen with a pin in it?) In the near future they will be visiting home in Las Vegas, but the exciting news is that OddGodfrey (Leslie) has created a children’s book, about a unicorn that goes to sea. It’s not entirely fictional. And they are looking for people to help them get the word out. Okay, here’s my first contribution, but I’m just me. You can help, too. Just cllick this link: https://www.oddgodfrey.com/oddlog/launchteamrecruits and read all about it.
Of course, if you don’t like adventure, exotic food, children’s books, or unicorns, you can ignore this post entirely. But please don’t.
I just saw this on Facebook and thought it worth sharing.
It’s possible that you no longer need to get better at your craft. That your craft is just fine. It’s possible that you need to be braver instead.
Source: The limits of technique
I am a writer. I’m writing even as I write. Yes. But I can’t just put writing related stuff here once a week and call it good. Sure, I’ll put writing related stuff here, when it is the topic. But, not always. Not today. You know, absolutely anything feeds a writing career. You can stand aside at a party and make up stories for all the weird people you see (and everybody is weird.) You can read a manual on how to repair a weed whacker and get inspired. Okay? So, everything you read here is writing related, ipso facto. So.
Today I’m going to write about watching a presidency crash and burn. This is my second one, and the similarities are legion. The denials, the new evidence contradicting the denials, the further denials, and then, finally, the camel’s back breaks and, here’s a big difference, Dick Nixon (I voted for that asshole!) had the grace to retire before he was utterly destroyed. The incumbent this time, eeeeeeeehhh, probably won’t. He really is a Narcissistic Personality. Not just a guy with narcissistic tendencies. Hell, I have narcissistic tendencies, but a full blown psychiatric disorder. Don’t believe me? Then read this description from the DSM:
It’s in PDF format, so, no worries, you can read it. Download it, even. Read it and weep, because it describes President Trump perfectly. In fact, my PhD psychologist daughter told me that, prior to his being nominated for President, he was commonly used as a literal textbook example of a narcissistic personality.
Being NPD, Trump can no more resign than he can fly (though he may dispute the fact that he can’t fly, but you and I know he can’t.) He also, of course, can’t live to be 150, negotiate better than anyone, or bring peace in our time, but he likes to think he can, so he thinks he can. A person with NPD is, you can see, divorced from reality. Since he can see no difference between himself and the world, the world is, for him, limited to his own experience, which is limited, because everybody’s experience is limited. One thing that has shocked Trump is the fact that the President of the United States is actually one of the least powerful people on the planet. If he had the following he thinks he does, maybe he could have more influence over the world. As it is, he can influence only other individual world leaders, and then only enough to let him think that he’s won. Sad, huh? Since, in his experience, he has never lost anything, or at least never failed to cover his losses with bluster and bluff, he will never see a reason to retire with some remaining dignity and grace. (Some would argue that he’s never had any in the first place.) Which means that he’s going to be pulled out of the Oval Office by his ankles, should he be impeached (as seems likely) and convicted (which seems less so, but the way he’s going these days, I wouldn’t bet against it.)
Whatever happens, it is interesting to watch, just as it was in the fall of 1973. You know, the fall of an American President. Here comes that big hill . . .
The best part of making new friends at the night market is that they will give you the local scoop on where you have to go to see the best parts of Thailand. We had other plans, but the fellas told us to alter course and visit Phu Chi Fa instead. This mountain peak is one of the highest points in a