Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Seven ramdom pieces of info about me...

A Facebook friend assigned to provide seven random pieces of information about myself. Here we go:

1. One of the ways I learned English was to listen to shortwave radio before coming to the U.S. and speaking on the CB radio once here.

2. I have never been to Alabama, Omaha, Burkina Faso, or Egypt.

3. There was no yellow submarine--at least that I am aware of--in the town where I was born.

4. I believe that the World would be better off without communists, alcohol, and adulterers.

5. I like to listen to Supreme Court oral arguments.

6. I used to be somewhat judgmental.

7. The last two times I rented a car were in 2000 and 2005. On the latter occasion, the AM band did not work on the car radio, but when I got within the reach of an FM station, I heard for the first time in the news about the nomination of John Roberts to replace Sandra Day O'Connor (which was subsequently changed to the nomination to replace William Rehnquist as Chief Justice after his passing)

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

How, exactly, does the Earth's tilt cause the seasons?

Different individuals on the autism spectrum are impacted in different ways. The one area in which I am severely impaired is spatial perception. I do not have good intuition in this area and I have real difficulty reasoning myself through spatial transformations. People will give me directions to a destination and say "You can't miss it!" Unfortunately, my response is going to be "Oh yes, I can!" Ever since I first learned about the Earth's tilt in elementary school, I have been aware that Earth's seasons are somehow related to the tilt of the Earth. Yet, until today, I have never been able to understand how, in reality, the tilt brings about the change in seasons as the Earth rotates around the sun. I have never doubted the truth of this explanation and never suspected that there was some conspiracy going on to mislead the population. I just didn't understand what was going on. I have tried to read a number of descriptions and observed numerous animations. Until today, I still ended up walking away without understanding the explanation. However, after watching this lecture, I finally understand (sort of, at least): https://www.khanacademy.org/science/cosmology-and-astronomy/earth-history-topic/earth-title-topic/v/how-earth-s-tilt-causes-seasons .

Friday, September 27, 2013

Is authentic cool?

Many well meaning people will often praise an ethnic restaurant as being "authentic"--i.e., true to the actual cuisine of a particular country or region.  Somehow, "authentic" offerings are seen as being of higher quality and more desirable than the ones that have somehow "sold out" or "caved" to the tastes of the masses. 

Authentic may be politically correct, but does it actually taste better?  Granted, in some cases, authentic restaurants may go through more elaborate preparations that restaurants that seek to reduce costs opt to skip.  Perhaps they would not have been able to get away with this "back home."  I am not in favor of mediocrity. I just refuse to be against innovation and improvement as a matter of principle.  The dinosaurs died out for a reason.  So will many cultures that refuse to learn from the American way.  (And our culture could, too, if we are not open to innovations from the outside).

Certain individuals maintain an adamant sense of superiority that they can "hack" the "real thing" rather than having to resort to something that has been "watered down" to meet sissier Western tastes.  I am the first to agree the reducing the spice on Indian food is a pathetic accommodation to those who can't handle truly hot food.  Other adaptations clearly make more sense, however.

There are large variations in taste around the World.  Tastes are to some extent acquired; we "learn" to like certain foods that we have grown up eating.  (There is also an evolutionary predisposition toward a preference for sweet and fatty foods, a remnant from times when it was in the interest of survival to maximize caloric intake while food was available).  To the extent that changes have been made to dishes at "inauthentic" restaurants, these may, in fact, better accommodate the tastes of the vast majority of consumers in the "target" country.  Yes, it looks like American foods are being messed up in other countries when they add all sorts of yucky ingredients to the real thing, but it unfair to expect people who have grown up to like yucky stuff to appreciate unyucky alternatives. There really is no reason why the Japanese should eat American foods sweeter than they prefer just to stay true to the American origin of the fare.  Neither should Americans be subjected to a limited assortment of toppings for a food item just because people in country of origin didn't feel as much of a need to satisfy a desire for choice and individual differences in taste.

Some purists may feel that fusion cuisine is heretical and somehow uncultured.  I have no problem if they want to stick with the "authentic" thing, but I am not impressed by their commitment to principle and their snide insinuations that they are more enlightened.  Innovation and adaptation are cool!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Everyday [was] a savings day for Thrifty people!

Call me nostalgic, but I'm still not over the demise of the Thrifty chain.  Yes, the takeover by RiteAid was in 1996, but what can I say?  I am slow to accept change.  It's not that I am dissatisfied with RiteAid--they often have great sales--but it's just sad when all that is left of the old Thrifty is the name of the store ice cream brand.

It used to sound so reassuring to hear the old jingle "Everyday's a savings day for thrifty people!"

They also had a rather memorable advertisement back in the days  of old fashioned film.  An older woman calls her son to talk about some pictures he sent.  For those born fewer than thirty years ago, yes, old fashioned print photos sent by snail mail.  Although the woman recognizes her daughter-in-law and the grandchildren, she does not recognize one  of the characters in the photos.  The man explains that he grew a beard.  The mother then announces that she is sending the photos back.  "You're sending the photos back because I grew a beard?" the man asks incredulously.  "No, for your album," the mother explains.  The man then happily tells his mother that she can keep the photos because Thrifty offers double prints.  The woman is perplexed.  "Trifty?" she asks in a polish accent, clearly unaware of the giant chain.  At end of the call, the man expresses his love in Polish.

Am I being to sentimental?  Probably, but I am also disappointed that the Bank of A. Levy was taken over many years ago by First Interstate.  They had great commercials where they represented themselves as "the boring bank."  In one, a man called up making a case for how boring he was, hoping that he would be eligible to set up an account.  They told him to relax, that he did not have to prove that he was boring.  They were the boring bank because they took care of the boring stuff for their customers.