Way back in September I posted my plan for saving Detroit.
And now that Johnny-come-lately Rand Paul has stolen my best ideas.
I guess I should be flattered. Or angling for a job in the Paul administration.
An outstanding post from Kevin Kim over at Hairy Chasms this morning. Go give it a read right now.
And then read this one courtesy of NPR.
Makes you think. It did me anyway. I left a comment on Kevin’s blog that was long enough to a post here, so that’s what I’m making it:
This was a good and thought provoking read. As one who leans right though I must say that I haven’t observed as the norm the kind of thinking on separatism that you describe. I don’t believe that folks should stay in their place, but rather we should all have the freedom to make the place we want for ourselves. It seems to me that the most extremist viewpoints on both the right and left are what gets everyone’s attention, while the vast majority of us just want to live our lives in harmony.
For example, Malkin can definitely be out there on the fringe, but the reality is most people think we should have a sensible and consistent enforcement of our immigration laws. Although Malkin used harsh rhetoric, most countries in the world, including Korea and Mexico, strictly enforce their immigration statutes.
I too fear we are losing our “unum” and that can’t be a good thing for a country that was founded on a “melting pot” principle. But having said that, it’s always been the case that Americans have lived together and yet stayed somewhat apart. Every major city has it’s Italian district, it’s Chinatown, etc. I recall when my kids were in high school our community was 50% black and 50% white. This was decades after Jim Crow mandated segregation. And yet, at basketball games the African-Americans by choice sat almost exclusively in one section of the bleachers. There was no friction or animosity, they just preferred to sit and cheer together. I guess that’s just basic human nature.
Assimilation is good and necessary but I don’t think achieving that requires abandoning your cultural heritage either. So, I think that while English proficiency is a necessary component of becoming fully “Americanized”, I don’t really have a problem with those who haven’t mastered the language. My attitude on this has moderated significantly over the years. In my hometown in California we had a huge influx of Vietnamese boat people. I’d drive down main street and couldn’t read the shop signs in the city I grew up in and I found that irksome. But after living in Korea for several years I came to really appreciate some simple courtesies like announcing subway stops in English. Now, when I encounter the ubiquitous bi-lingual (generally Spanish/English) signs, advertisements, ballots and the like, I’m okay with it. Although I still think bi-lingual education in the public schools is wrong. It seems to me that kids who are not compelled to learn English are being set up for failure and a minimum wage lifestyle. That is in no ones best interest.
After all these years I can’t converse in Korean, so maybe shame on me. I never worked on the economy there though and I did learn enough to get by (I can order my beer and ask for the bathroom for example). I do feel like a failure though when I can’t participate in the conversation when I visit Jee Yeun’s family. But many many times I’ve had Koreans apologize to me for their “poor” English. In their own damn country! And that embarrassed me because we wouldn’t have been talking at all if they relied on my limited Korean.
Anyway, I think we might be losing something that binds us together as a nation. But on the other hand, maybe we are just evolving as a nation. I do wish we’d have less “us and them” and more “we are all in this together”. I imagine you may call me a dreamer. But I’m not the only on.
In this exciting episode of The Adventures of LTG we go grocery shopping!
Finding the larder at the Little House on the McCrarey was in a seriously depleted mode, the wife and I took to the highway for some hunting and gathering. First stop was the Korean market.
It seemed we needed just about everything they sold.
One hundred fifty dollars later we loaded our burden up and carted it out.
We also scored us a nice thick slab of samgyapsal.
Having taken care of the Korean specialty foods, it was off to the American supermarket for the rest of our necessities. Now, I’m a Publix kind of guy, but Jee Yeun wanted to score some galbi and Bi-Lo is the only store in town that slices short ribs in a proper Korean fashion.
In addition to our standard grocery list, I picked up the ingredients for my Aunt Pat’s recipe fruit salad, my contribution to the family Thanksgiving feast next week.
Having loaded the shopping cart to near capacity, it was time to check out. Now, I’m not going to rant about it (much) but one thing that I find irksome about the American shopping experience is that stores are going big on this “self checkout” system. As a matter of principle I refuse to ring up my own groceries. But the bastards make you suffer for your insolence by only manning the bare minimum of cashier operated checkouts. Today they had two lanes open and one of those was for fifteen items or less. One person was in the 15 item line, and there were several in the regular lane. So, a manager walks by and observes my frustration and directs me to the short line, despite the fact that I was several times over the stated maximum for items.
I sensed there would be trouble, but I followed the manager’s instructions. The customer in front of me was an older (than me) woman with two items that had already been rung up. So, we proceeded to load the conveyer belt to overflowing with our 100+ items. And waited. And waited. I’m not sure what was going on, but the woman was fumbling around in her purse for what seemed like an entirety. I guess she was looking for her Bi-Lo discount card. Finally, the cashier tried to look her up in the system without success. And then a discussion ensued as to whether the purchased items were even eligible for a discount. The woman finally decided that she would pay, and proceeded to count out the correct amount at a pace that seemed to make my head want to explode. And I’m talking about the bills. When she went rummaging for her change purse and then started counting out each individual coin I was reduced to reciting the serenity prayer repeatedly. To no apparent effect. Meanwhile, customers with 15 or fewer items were coming up, looking at our pile, and giving me the evil eye. I know what they were thinking, because lord knows, I’ve had those same thoughts when I was on the wrong side of a misbehaving customers. When you don’t follow the rules established for the grocery checkout the very fabric that binds society together begins to unravel. Yeah, there was definitely murder in the hearts of some Bi-Lo customers today.
But here’s the kicker. When the old woman was finally done with her transaction, she turned to me and said “I thought this line was for 15 items or less!” Now, I might have just ignored the comment, but then the checker said “yeah, I know.” So I remained relatively calm but gruffly pointed out that I had been directed to this line by the store manager. They both then professed to have only been “joking”. Yeah. Ha ha. Good one.
Anyway, as my purchases were rang up I had to do my own bagging (another downside of the 15 item line). I had bought two bottles of wine on sale and the cashier said if I buy four I get another 10% off, plus a nifty little carry sack. So, I sent Jee Yeun running for two more. As she placed the wine in the nifty little carry sack the cashier asked “now will you smile?” So, I mustered up my best fake smile ever and rolled on out of there.
And to think that some people believe retired life must be boring!
…that drinking alcoholic beverages is not generally conducive to enhanced hand/eye coordination. And yet, many (most?) dart players insist that they play better after a few beers. They even say witty things like “I need me some more aiming fluid.” And as illogical as it seems, I’ve seen guys throw a mean game that I wouldn’t want to see behind the wheel.
Personally, I’ve thrown completely sober (usually in the morning matches at tournaments) and as is more normally the case, after consuming some icy cold liquid bread. Frankly, I don’t see a real big difference in my results. Well, on a normal dart night I will drink five or six beers over the course of 3 or 4 hours. And generally speaking, I get a little sloppier with my throws towards the end. So then I switch to diet Coke.
I throw best when I’m “in the zone”–relaxed and focused and not “over thinking” my game. Darts is basically about repetition–muscle memory if you will. I get in trouble when I start consciously aiming as opposed to making a more natural throw towards the target. So, to the extent that two or three beers calms the mind and eases nervousness, there could indeed be some benefit I suppose.
But a better explanation may be that avoiding too much “mindfulness” is the key to throwing better darts. This article in Scientific American makes the argument that at least for some activities “those with a low degree of mindfulness scored higher on pattern-finding tests than those who were further along the pathway toward enlightenment. (Mindfulness is defined here as attention to what is happening in the present moment in one’s surroundings.)”
It makes a certain amount of sense I suppose. To be effective at the sport you can’t afford distractions. There is actually quite a bit of etiquette normally expected during a match intended to avoid unduly distracting a shooter from the task at hand (scorekeepers must stand absolutely still, the opponent stands out of the thrower’s line of sight, and loud talking or shouting “miss it!” are also frowned upon). Still, the game is generally played in a pub atmosphere, which means distractions like loud music, boisterous drunks, and pretty waitresses are difficult to avoid. A little less mindfulness can be a good thing in these circumstances.
I reckon the next time someone throws a good game to beat me I’ll congratulate him by saying “you must be out of your mind!”
(I originally saw a link to the Scientific American article on Instapundit and immediately saw the potential applicability to darts, but was too
lazy busy to blog about it. But when I saw that the Big Hominid had also tweeted (twittered?) the link, I got motivated!)
Call me a dinosaur if you will, but I don’t use Twitter. But I sometimes encounter “tweets” as I plumb the depths of the internets in my daily quest for
photographs of scantily clad women a broader understanding of the issues of the day. One of the minor controversies taking shape of late revolves around this column by Richard Cohen in The Washington Post. Now, I don’t read much of what Cohen writes and I care even less about what he thinks. I find him to be an intellectually dishonest sycophant whose opinions are little more than a regurgitation of left wing talking points. But I guess even mindless liberals can stray too far off the reservation at times. In the column linked above Cohen talks about how the extremist Tea Party types are little more than misogynist, homophobic, racist hatemongers. Eh, what else is new was my reaction.
What makes this kerfuffle somewhat interesting is the reaction of Cohen’s fellow travelers. In penning his vitriol some folks on the left believe Cohen inadvertently outted himself as, well, a misogynist, homophobic, racist hatemonger. And the tweets started flying. I find it all mildly amusing.
Long time readers will know that I generally support what the Tea Party represents. Essentially, that means less taxes (we are after all Taxed Enough Already) and a smaller, less intrusive federal government. Those issues have nothing to do with interracial marriage, gay rights, abortion rights, or any other form of bigotry. The fact that some on the left (and right for that matter) want to demonize the Tea Party and its adherents tells me that the powers that be are truly terrified of this increasingly popular grassroots movement.
Anyway, one of my favorite bloggers who doesn’t weigh in much on political topics lists his tweets in the sidebar. And that is where I found this gem: “I’m not a Tea Partier myself, but I find the blind slagging of the Tea Party to be evidence of great ignorance.” He also included a link to this piece on the Cohen controversy which pretty much captures where I stand.
Now, you may be thinking “if that’s the case, why didn’t you just link to that article and be done with it?” To which I can only respond “because”. Which also explains why I don’t tweet. Why limit yourself to 140 characters when you can say the same thing in 400 words?
Amongst my admittedly small social circle are several folks whose career path has led them to join the ranks of academia as university professors. I’m sorry to admit I know little of their individual journeys and the challenges they faced and overcame along the way. So I really appreciated this post written by Dr. Colby King, recently ensconced at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Colby, especially because he is one of my few left-of-center friends who is willing to actually engage in a serious discussion of some of the issues facing our nation. We rarely reach agreement but we do find on occasion some common ground or at least mutual understanding of our respective viewpoints. Most importantly, I always learn something new and for that he earns my gratitude. My respect and understanding were greatly enhanced after learning more about his personal story. I encourage you to give it a read.
Being the selfish bastard that I am, Colby’s story set me to thinking of my own. I grew up in an upper middle class area of Orange County, California. But our family was definitely working class. My father was managing a fast food restaurant when I was born. After a McDonald’s opened across the street from his store, “The Rite Spot”, there was a futile burger war (it’s hard to undercut a 15 cent hamburger) and my father moved on to driving a truck in route sales. My mother supplemented the family income first as a carhop and later working the night shift in a factory.
We always had food on the table (lots of fried chicken and ground beef). We had a roof over our heads (a rented roof of a 1940s era house surrounded by fancy new subdivisions). And we had clothes on our backs (in my case usually hand-me-downs). So we weren’t “poor” in the classic sense of the word, but comparatively speaking we were amongst the poorest people in our community.
Kids can be cruel, and they were at times. I recall classmates mocking “the shack” in which we lived. And since my clothes were functional but not fashionable (and cleaned at the local laundromat) I took some heat for that too. One painful memory from sixth grade was the day I wore some shoes my uncle brought home from the store where he worked. They were a little too large for me, but they were new. And I guess maybe they didn’t really go that well with the blue jeans I invariably wore to school. Anyway, we were lining up for class and all the other kids pointed at my shoes and started laughing uproariously. The teacher came out to see what all the commotion was, took a look at my shoes, and laughed too. Needless to say, that was the first and last time I wore those shoes. They looked something like this:
Then there was the 7th grade math teacher (Mr. Peter Boothroyd the bastard) who found it appropriate to discipline misbehavior in his class by announcing “keep it up McCrarey and you’ll wind up like your father–selling Jello out of a truck.” Suffice to say, by the time I finished high school I had developed a pretty healthy inferiority complex. Which I self-medicated with copious amounts of pot smoking.
I floundered around some after graduation, taking a few classes at the community college but mostly just getting high and doing whatever minimum wage gigs I could find. My daughter was born one week after I turned 20 and that kicked in a new found sense of responsibility. So, I found a job in route sales (fuck you Boothroyd!) and actually did pretty well at it. I took the Postal Service entrance exam and after a couple of years was hired as a letter carrier. I was finally on my way!
I subsequently added a son to my family, transferred to Prescott, Arizona, and bought my first house. I was living the American dream and was content to spend the rest of my life carrying mail and enjoying what for me was the best life I had known. Then the marriage fell apart and I wound up with custody of both kids. I started dating a grad student (I wrote about her in some detail here) and hanging out with her college professor friends at Northern Arizona University. And probably for the first time in my life I started to realize that these people I admired were not better, or necessarily smarter, than me–just more educated. So, it was back to the local community college for me!
The grad student relationship ended badly and left me pretty much emotionally devastated. Being a single father was more than I could handle, so I transferred to Oklahoma (technically Fort Smith, Arkansas) so my mom could lend me a hand with the kids. I was still delivering mail, but now I was doing it in stifling summer humidity and winter ice. Made the job a lot less appealing! Worst of all it was not mentally engaging. As I carried my mail route I’d imagine doing things that I’d actually like to be doing. And suddenly, I’d have completed my rounds and not recalled actually having done so. I was just in automatic mode, mental masturbation if you will. So, I realized that I needed to make a change in my life, but had no idea what exactly to do.
One perk of being a mailman (especially a single mailman) is that you tend to meet a lot of women along the route. One of these was Iris Breed, the Director of the Fort Smith Girls Club. One of the smartest people I’ve had the good fortune to meet on this road we call life. We began dating and I shared with her my general dissatisfaction with the malaise of my career. She said why don’t you take a management job? Well. I mean, who’d want a guy like me on the management team? Besides, I was the union steward. Working in management was against everything I stood for! But she continued to encourage me and pointed out that the only thing I truly lacked in life was the confidence to pursue my goals. So, when a job came open to manage the safety program I applied. I knew nothing about safety management, but at least I felt like I could continue to support the rank and file from inside the beast.
Bobbie McLane was the Human Resources director and I had met her often when I dealt with her on union issues. I guess she liked how I handled myself in those meetings because she took a leap and actually hired me. And sent to the USPS Management Academy in Potomac, MD for several weeks so I could actually learn how to do the job. I’m forever grateful to her for giving me that chance to be more than what I had been. But the rest was up to me.
And I did alright I guess. I was promoted to a labor relations position in Columbia, SC. I went back to school (at an actual university–Go ‘Cocks!) and finally earned my bachelor’s degree in 1991 (at the tender age of 35). After that, more promotions found me in D.C. where I took advantage of a management development program and graduate degree studies. Thirty-four years after first putting on that letter carrier uniform I retired as GS-15 Director of Human Resources for the United States Forces Korea.
What a ride it was! I had some luck along the way. And help and encouragement from people that saw in me things I didn’t see in myself. But ultimately, it was up to me to overcome my self-imposed limitations and find a way to achieve my potential. Being from a working class background made that more of a challenge I suppose, but I’d argue that it wasn’t really society that put me in the box. It just took some time to understand that no one can define who you are or what you can be, unless you give them that power. Which sounds pretty simple when I write it now. But learning that proved to be my life’s greatest achievement.
…is that they have no respect for their elders!
Which is my tongue-in-cheek way of explaining why I lost to ADO National Youth Champion Dylan Andersen in the third round of cricket singles last night. I hung with him though and actually played well enough to win, except that I didn’t. As is her custom, Jee Yeun jokingly tells a victorious opponent “I don’t like you. You beat my husband.” Dylan responded “no I didn’t, he beat himself”. True that.
It doesn’t matter how many great darts you throw (and I hit some big ones) if you don’t throw the winning dart. And I didn’t. But other than the fact that I lost I felt good about my overall performance. I kept my head in the game, didn’t get flustered or intimidated, and gave a superior player all he could handle. In the past I haven’t done any of those things, so I call that progress.
(Jee Yeun posted a video clip from the match on Facebook. Not sure how to move it here.)
A little ditty to sing on the way to Myrtle Beach for the Ghost on the Coast tournament.
With apologies to Jerry Reed.
I’m not a bleeding heart, but I enjoyed the way this song flows.
This article was written by a guy living in Japan, but I’ve witnessed many of the same behaviors in Korea. My “favorite” is how even on a crowded subway many Koreans don’t want to sit next to the scary waeguk. Or maybe it’s just because I’m fat.
Having said that, I really believe the writer needs to take a chill pill. Your experience in Korea, Japan, or anywhere else you might travel (or live) will be enhanced if you learn to just go along and get along. Why choose to be offended by something that doesn’t really matter? Are these “microagressions” really cultural? Perhaps, but Lord knows, I’ve seen tourists in the U.S.A. treated pretty rudely.
Back when I was hiring people to work for me in Korea I noted that about 70% of the new hires loved Korea and wanted to stay beyond the initial two year tour of duty. The others hated living there and couldn’t wait to get out. And most of their complaints were really about those trivial things that could have just as easily been ignored. There is so much to love about Korea and Koreans and the rich and unique culture. You just have to be open to the experience, good and bad.
The only thing that ever caused me to lose my temper in Korea were rude taxi drivers. But then again, I had issues with the trike drivers in the Philippines, cabbies in NYC, and people in Philadelphia generally. But the Koreans I got to know and call friends have always been gracious, warm and generous.
Anyway, the article is worth a read.
So today I attended the induction ceremony as my daughter was enshrined in the Pelion High School Hall of Fame. Yep, she was quite the athlete. Lettered in basketball as an 8th grader, was the South Carolina 800m champion in track, and excelled in cross country. She still holds most of the female records in those sports twenty years after graduation. She was honored to be honored and it made her daddy proud to boot.
Brought back some memories as well. I recall my motivational speech before the State Track meet. I told her if she won the championship I’d buy her a new car. I admit I figured it was a pretty safe bet since she had a lot of long legged competition. But I wound up buying the car.
She was aggressive as hell on the basketball court too. She’s only 5’5″ and most of the girls she played against had a few inches on her. But she didn’t take no shit from anyone, driving the ball to the basket over, around, and when necessary, through her opponents. Once she had gotten into foul trouble so was sitting the bench. Towards the end of the game I heard her pleading with the coach “Put me back in! I’ve got one more foul left. I want to use it!”
This simple paragraph embodies what I dislike most about life in America:
Whatever virtue this bad-tasting Z-grade atrocity once contained derived from its exemplification of a set of certain cherished American fables—immigrant ingenuity, the cultural melting pot, old things combining into new things—and has now been totally swamped and consumed by different and infinitely uglier American realities: the commodification of culture; the transmutation of authentic artifacts of human life into hollow corporate brand divisions; the willingness of Americans to slop any horrible goddamn thing into their fucking mouths if it claims to contain some byproduct of a cow and comes buried beneath a pyramid of shredded, waxy, safety-cone-orange “cheese.”
Now, obviously he’s talking about food here, Cincinnati-style chili to be precise, but it also captures the homogenization of American culture that I detest. Everywhere I go it’s just more of the same. Chain restaurants, impersonal franchised bars, strip malls, ugly signage, and other non-distinct urban clutter. We’ve lost what once made us diverse and unique. Even regional accents are fading away. Alas.
Anyway, this rant is brought to you courtesy of this state-by-state ranking of the culinary delicacies that the natives claim as their own. South Carolina came in second with shrimp and grits. And I detest grits. Which outs me as a non-native more often than I like. Anyway, it’s a fun read.
Hat Tip: Althouse
Doing the treadmill can get a little boring. But through the power of imagination aided by the wonder of the internet, I can almost see myself hiking here. While shitting my pants.
I like the pictures at the link, but here’s a little video as well.