Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

Boston

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

I just read the latest marathon-bombing news this morning.  At least some of it.  Was surprised at the level of some of the response.

Two kids shut down Boston?  And got the attention of the entire nation?  And were killed/apprehended almost live on nationwide TV? 

After the latest suspect was arrested, residents of Watertown, “took to the street en-masse… cheering on emergency workers and chanting ‘USA! USA! USA!’” (source)

It’s like the end to a movie, except real people were killed.  With this much attention, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are copy-cat crimes, though I sincerely hope not.

The LA Times wrote an article, Boston bombings: Social media spirals out of control, with the subtitle, “Web sleuths cast suspicion on innocent people and spread bad tips and paranoia.

From my limited perspective, there was a fair share more paranoia than necessary, considering the threat.  Shutting down the entire city of Boston, population 4+ million, was perhaps out of proportion to having one man running around with a gun (or, as the facts would show, a wounded 19 year old hiding under a boat).

In the greater Boston metropolitan area, all businesses were closed and everyone told to stay inside.  This article described the city as a ghost town, adding, “John Fox, the official historian of the FBI, said that the shutdown of such a major city was virtually unprecedented in recent U.S. history.”

From photos of empty Boston streets, “Cant believe Mass Ave is so dead today On a Friday This is unreal” with the Instagram picture below:

Mass Avenue

I was glad to read one jogger had the nerve to leave his home and face the danger dire to go running along the Charles river on Memorial Drive, in outright rebellion of the standing orders.  Perhaps he was a descendant of an original Boston minuteman.

My friend here, Beth McHoul, reposted the following quote on Facebook: “If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target” -unknown

Beth is a native of Boston, and has run in that marathon more than once herself. She is an amazing woman. Last Monday, her sister was running and only a mile from the finish when the bombs went off. I’m not trying to downplay the awfulness of the attack.

But in light of how things went down the last couple days, I just have to wonder, “Are Americans at large prone to overreaction?” 

For contrast, here’s a local anecdote:

One day last week our Haitian worker Pierre arrived late to work.  He said he ran into a police/gang shootout on the street.  He turned his motorcycle around and waited it out at a nearby gas station.  When the shots died down he drove through the mayhem, continuing on his way to work, dodging several bodies laying on the road.  Pierre noted that business was as usual at the next intersection (Jerald Batay), as if nothing had happened right down the street. 

In light of a story like that, when I read about the drastic measures taken in Boston, I have this distinct impression us American’s are becoming soft

Logistically, it’s even surprising to me Boston could be shut down with so little notice.  Apparently, residents were awoken to reverse-911 telephone calls instructing them to stay indoors.  I didn’t even know they could do that.  Reminds me of Orwell’s 1984.

Something else that reminds me of Orwell’s 1984 (and while I’m on my soapbox) is how smartphones are changing the world. Whether in regards to how an investigation is done of a terrorist attack like the Boston Marathon, or whether it’s the Pope’s inauguration:

Ridiculousness

I’m thinking there is no going back.  The times we live in just ain’t like the olde days. 

Obama Won, Grab Your Water Pistols and Head for the Hills!

Friday, November 9th, 2012

While many were downcast by the election results, others were thrilled.  Among the latter… Popular Science Magazine. 

Here is a quote from their Wednesday article:

What a relief, many of us thought this morning. We re-elected a president who supports public funding for research (truthfully, public funding for anything). We re-elected a president who acknowledges the reality of climate change….

…[bla bla bla]…

Sincerely,
The writers and editors of Popular Science

I like Popular Science, but isn’t it telling how the reason they appreciate Obama so much is because he hands out public money so liberally?

Limbaugh says, “It’s very difficult to win against Santa Claus… In a country of children where the option is Santa Claus or work, what wins?”

I guess Santa Claus wins.

At least among Independents (who Romney regrettably tried so hard to court), single women (70%), Catholics (50%), and – what’s this??

Exit polls say 21% (over 6 million) of born again, white, evangelical Christians voters also cast a ballot for Obama. 

This is surprising to me as Obama’s liberal stance on moral issues are so far against Biblical values.  Not sure what to make of it. 

Well, it’s best not to take ourselves, or this world, too seriously.  Sometimes we need to take time off for silliness.  The sky may be falling, but it hasn’t hit me yet.

In the picture below I am being silly, demonstrating one of my more nascent moves to brothers Joe and Luke, to their bemusement.

Showing Off My Kung Fu Skills

Ok, back to election coverage.  Take a gander at this map:

Distribution

It appears the “sea to shining sea” voted Obama, while the “amber waves of grain” voted Romney.  Nevertheless, I predict as the Republic party drifts further from stances on morality, godliness, and conservatism, someday New York and California may begin voting Republican too. 

To Vote, or Not to Vote?

What should we do when neither party wholly represents our values?  Vote for the best of the two options?  That’s fine, but has anyone else noticed that each election there seems to be more the honest Christian has to swallow?  For me, both the last election (McCain) and this one were struggles, and this time I just wrote in an alternative candidate. 

There is a lot of talk about how abstaining from voting in the Presidential election, or writing someone in who has no chance of winning, is a waste of ones vote.  But my reasoning is that if I voted in the primary for who I wanted, and my candidate didn’t win, then I have already lost, and am let off the hook for later supporting a candidate I don’t fully support.

Nevertheless, my one-off voice of dissension didn’t appear to change the Kansas outcome, as a glance at the map above for Kansas reveals.

The Silver Lining

In important matters, such as Wichita adding fluoride to our city’s water supply, my proud “No” against that initiative appeared to carry more weight, seeing as that insidious pork bill to poison us all was solidly trounced.  “Let freedom reign,” I say.

I See our Future, and the Word “Debt” Looms Large

What does it mean to have another 4 years of Obama?  Most likely we will get new supreme court judges which lean toward the left.  And most likely we will get more debt (though I can’t say either of these results would have been significantly different with Romney).

One estimate I saw forecasted the 2016 debt to rise to 22 trillion, up from 16 trillion now.  Taking into consideration we are spending over a trillion more annually than making from taxes, that’s going to take a long time to pay off!

Not to mention, according to this site, our total unfunded liabilities from social security (16 trillion), prescription drugs (21 trillion), and Medicare (84 trillion) sum to another 121 trillion dollars of bills coming down the pike we don’t have the money for.  What does it all mean?  I shouldn’t wonder it means the feared Teotwawki (the end of the world as we know it).

Not that all our financial woes are Obama’s fault, but I’m dubious borrowing our way back into prosperity, as his method seems to be, is likely to work.

At the same time, while our 16 trillion dollar public debt sounds like a lot for the feds to have blown through on credit, it’s revealing our private debt is about the same.  Yep, between home mortgages, student loans, and credit cards, we the people are in the hole some 15.8 trillion!  It’s like I always say, government is but a reflection of the people.

You can quote me on this: “I predict someday America will have to tighten its belt.”

But for now, I’m moving to Haiti where they’ve already tightened their belt and the national debt is a measly 1 billion.  Not to mention that country is practically awash in money from the 11 billion pledged after the earthquake (just kidding, all that money mysteriously disappeared).

The Bottom Line

Ahh, the end of the matter is that America is still a great country, in my humble opinion, and I feel proud to have been part of the election process, and to have seen all the red, white, and blue flags gallantly waving, and to get my “I Voted” sticker, and to sit up late watching the results come in on TV, and to contradict the political analysts on said TV with my own pointedly insightful comments around mouthfuls of “triple-bypass-blast-O-butter” popcorn, only available in America!

Differences

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Pop cans here in Israel are made from thicker aluminum than I’m used to. 

This makes them heavier – this MEANS I always think there’s more pop in my can than there really is.  I’m continually disappointed as I go for that laast sip and… nothings there.  The can has tricked me again. 

That’s not the only thing weird about Israel.

Though they drive on the right hand of the road, there traffic is still a bit weird in that the middle lines dividing flows of traffic are WHITE, not yellow like they’re supposed to be.  Talk about confusing, especially in town.

While I’m on the issue of roads, someone here didn’t get the memo Jumbo Sized roads are best.  In fact, many roads here are so tight it’s absolutely ridiculous.  There have been times my driver has had to literally stop in the middle of the road and back-up to let another car pass.

Here’s another difference: some places (like the barn I work in) have the hot water knob on the right side instead of the left.  But I think that’s just because whoever made that barn was in a hurry and hooked everything up backwards.  Everywhere else it’s normal.

And here’s another thing: we don’t wash dishes here with dish rags, but rather with a sponge.  I have yet to see a dish rag in any home, apartment, barn, eating establishment, or anywhere else in Israel.  Sponges are in.

Here’s a difference I find odd: I work with cattle, but there is exactly zero “Country Western” attitude in the Israeli cattlemen (and cattlewomen).  No one wears cowboy boots or big belt buckles, and the radio isn’t tuned to Country (hey, what’s Country? no one even knows who Taylor Swift is). 

Instead, we’re tuned in to Galgalatz radio, a pop music station here operated by Israeli Defense Forces Radio. 

The song I here over and over again a ka-jillion times every day is called אביב גפן ושרון ליפשיץ – נוסטלגיה  Obviously I have no idea what the title is or much less the lyrics, but I put it below so you can hear it.  It’s not so bad the first thousand or so times:  (if I hear it one more time I might scream or go pyscho) 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

While we’re speaking of Differences, let’s talk food.  First, the food here is good, don’t get me wrong.  I like tomatoes and cucumbers, I really do.  Here at the Kibbutz I have them for part of every meal (breakfast, lunch, and supper).

At first I thought tomatoes and cucumbers were a Nir Oz thing, then I went out in the “Real World” like Tel Aviv and guess what every market sells?  Yep, tomatoes and cucumbers.  But that’s fine for me because I love tomatoes and cucumbers.  Here they frequently put them in pita bread with humus and falafel.  But I (being American) think “sandwiches.”  I put my tomatoes and cucumbers on my egg sandwich (in the morning), my chicken sandwich (at lunch), and my tuna sandwich (at supper). 

Ok, enough differences, I’m going to bed.

3,000 Years, Baby

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Beiber Cover

Do you wonder what the #1 watched YouTube clip is? The answer: Justin Bieber’s music video, “Baby.” Over 483 million hits.

You know how much time that represents? Imagine someone watching that clip over and over again from cradle to the grave. Now, multiply that by 40. Yep, forty lifetimes of time. Or 3,000 years!

No, I haven’t watched it.

Popular music reveals a lot about our culture. It can impact the culture, but mostly reflects it. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume most people watching this song on YouTube are the younger crowd. It is a song by a High School Student, written about High School Students.

So let’s see what we can learn from the lyrics. Here’s a selection:

    Woah oh yeah
    (Whoa oh yeah)
    Eh Eh
    Whoa oh oh oh yeah

    You’re the finest girl i’ve ever seen
    You should be pick me
    So tell me can you dig it
    I’m you everything you need
    So tell me can you dig it

    I’ll always be your number one number one fan, dig that

    Baby baby baby ooo
    My baby baby baby noooo
    My baby baby baby ooo
    I thought you’d be always mine mine

    I can take ya to the movies
    We’ll be there holding hands
    I’ll walk you home from school
    I’ll walk you to your classes
    Playing my 360 yeah you’ll be my best friend
    But most of all baby doll you’ll be my love love love

    Baby baby baby ooo
    My baby baby baby nooo
    My baby baby baby ooo
    I thought you’d always be mine mine

    O I’m gone
    yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
    O I’m gone
    yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
    Know I’m gone
    yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
    Know I’m gone, gone gone gone
    I’m gone.

Gross. Yuck.

So I be like, “Our culture be getting dumbed down or what, ooo yeah?”

Heartthrob puppy love. The masses swoon.

One thing in the lyrics that struck me was how the song defined chivalrous “manliness” for our High School hero: holding hands, escorting a girl to her classes, and making the Playstation 360 available after school. Noble ideals, those.

It might also involve passionately making out in the school hallways during passing periods, I’ve observed. As a substitue teacher I’ve seen this. Other kids would pass by and ignore them. Teachers would stop them. I stopped them. But later they would continue… this raw behavior reminding me of Regnum Animalis on Discovery Channel. No restraint. Thankfully it’s a minority… but I wonder, has it always been this way?

I’ve also seen girls making out in the hallways with each other.

    “America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold:
    its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life.
    If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.”
    -Josef Stalin

It’s happening. We be getting less moral. And we be getting less spiritual. We can’t even be talking straight?

The bottom line: The popularity of “Baby” proves we’re wired for intimacy, but the 483 millions hits proves we’re instead wired to YouTube. Dig that.

So, what do you think the reason is behind this songs popularity?