Showing posts with label culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label culture. Show all posts

Monday, July 04, 2011

Culture: Putting the American Dream on the Psychologist's Couch

I suppose every culture has a heroic narrative of itself. It can be reflected in their national anthems or in their unofficial anthems.

For the British, it probably would be "Jerusalem."

For Americans, it can be any number of songs like "God Bless America," "America, the Beautiful," Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA," or Neil Diamond's "Coming to America."

Conversations about the merits of the American Dream and the idea of American Exceptionalism have been made difficult by binary thinking: America is the Great Satan or America is a Christian Nation.

Like most things in the world, America is a mix of good and bad.

But having said that, America is pretty unique as a beacon of liberty (economic and religious) such that people for centuries have taken great efforts to immigrate here.

Also unique is the melting pot of America where in many parts of the world such a mix of ethnic groups and religious ideas would lead to outright fighting in the streets.

And finally, the notion that humans have rights given by a Creator has propelled America forward in advancing freedoms here in the USA and the nation's willingness to support freedom in other parts of the world.

Here below is a video describing the above three ideas of "liberty," "e pluribus unum" and "in God we trust."

Happy Birthday America!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Culture: Tax Day April 15!

How many Americans pay NO Federal income tax?

142 million.

For more numbers see here.

Now, in fairness, there are other forms of taxation which hits those who do not pay income taxes and the article points that out.

So what is the big deal?

Well, as a matter of principle, I think if something benefits all people than most if not all should help pay for it even if only very modestly for the lower income folks. I realize there are some people's income that is really low and they should have no Federal income tax burden. However, 142 million in a nation of 300 million seems like a lot of people!

And that is the point the article ends with:

As the number of refundable tax credits continues to grow, more and more tax filers are seeing the IRS as a source of income, not as a feared tax collector. That may be OK for the public relations department at the IRS, which now pays for ads nationwide touting its giveaways, but the nation needs the IRS to be a tax collector, not a welfare dispenser.

The real issue is that millions of Americans no longer have any skin in the game and are becoming inoculated from the basic cost of government. To them, government seems free and politicians can easily convince them to support more and more spending because someone else is going to pay the tab. This trend deserves a broader national discussion than either party in Washington seems willing to engage in. [ed. note - emphasis mine]

Full disclosure: I do pay Federal Income taxes and I am not in the upper brackets.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Monday, July 27, 2009

Culture: Racism or law enforcement?

Police officer of one ethnic background arrests person of another ethnic background.

An example of racism or law enforcement?

The controversy over the Cambridge police arrest of Henry Louis Gates shows that the conversation about race in America remains fraught with pitfalls and a difficult topic.

It appears that even the woman who phoned in the 911 call is having to defend herself from criticism which is very disappointing.

President Obama wading into the topic with strong language raised the temperature on the story. To President Obama's credit, he has recognized his words were unfortunate and has proposed that he, Prof. Gates and Officer Crowley meet at the White House for a beer to talk.

Was the confrontation at the home of Prof. Gates racism or law enforcement?

I don't know.

But what I do know is that though America has come a long way in regards to race, the tempest over this case shows we still have a ways to go.

President Obama's "beer diplomacy" in this case is something we could learn from.

I often hear the phrase, "racial reconciliation" and I think one place that can happen is to simply listen and talk with someone who is different from one's self. In that setting, it becomes possible to see the other person as a fellow human being and that skin color is just a part of who we are and not all of what we are.

Update: CNN interviews some of the police officers of Cambridge.

Update: Thoughts from Brazile on the situation. Excerpt:
Therefore, I was not surprised by the findings of a recent WSJ/NBC poll. It found that just 4 percent of African-Americans think Gates was more at fault compared to 30 percent who pointed to the officer. Among whites, 32 percent said Gates was more at fault while 7 percent identified Crowley.
I suppose the day we truly "get past" race is when there isn't such a divergence in the response.

Update: Lucia Whalen who made the 911 phone call speaks out to clear her name.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Culture: Dennis Prager on What Makes America Special

Clear and to the point!


1. E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One)

2. In God We Trust (rights derived from God)

3. Liberty (equality of opportunity not of outcome)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Culture: Will Lyman's Voice

Does that voice sound familiar?

Its amazing how many different places you hear this guy's voice. You have heard it on many PBS documentaries and various commercials.

In case you are curious, he is Will Lyman, the man with the world's most distinctive voice!

UPDATE: In the TV ads, the "most interesting man in the world" is played by Jonathan Goldsmith. HT: Everything's Better With Brentter. More thoughts on the ad campaign from Salon's Seth Stevenson.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Culture: NBC's "Kings"

When I had heard that a tv show set in a fictional modern setting was starting up based loosely on the story of David from the Hebrew Scriptures, I admit I was a bit skeptical.

The opening episodes started on Sunday night and I caught only the last part of the show. It was interesting enough that I went to Hulu to see the whole episode.

The pacing is at times uneven and some connections to the original David story are a little too cute for its own good (e.g. the hero is David Shepherd and the enemy tanks are called Goliath) but the human drama of political intrigue, courage, brokenness and faith mixed with terrific performances by Ian McShane (King Silas) and Chris Egan (David) drew me in.

I'll be checking in on Kings as it unfolds.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Culture: Star Trek - The Original Series in HD

I wonder if they are going to re-master all 79 episodes?

At the moment, I've seen Where No Man Has Gone Before as well as The Corbomite Maneuver in the new crisp HD via streaming video!

As of today, there are 16 episodes in the new format!

I wonder how much is it costing them to clean up the old episodes?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Culture: Will Star Trek's Newest Form Be Successful?

May 8, 2009 ... Star Trek returns.

If you want to revisit the original, go to this site where the shows from 1966-1969 can be found.

The Star Trek fan base is well known to be ardent. Some have gone so far as to make new stories of the show with no hope of getting any money for it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Culture: Civility on the Internet

Because there is a certain anonymity on the internet, blogs can generate well over the line commentary.

I welcome comments even ones that disagree with me.

However, I try to run a family friendly blog here and will delete comments that egregiously breach decorum as I find them.

Below is my comments policy based on Jon Weisman's Dodger Thoughts Blog.

So here are his rules with modifications for this blog:
Thank you for not ...
1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
6) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
7) making the same point over and over again
8) being annoyed by the existence of this list
9) commenting under the obvious influence
10) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Also, please note that sidebar ads are placed by and do not necessarily reflect the views of this blogger.

Culture: The Ad NBC Refused to Run During the Super Bowl

What do you think?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Culture: MLK day and Inauguration Day

August 28, 1963

Martin Luther King spoke ...
... Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today....
January 1, 1863

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed ...
A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom....
November 19, 1863

Abraham Lincoln spoke ...
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled, here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here.

It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
January 20, 2009

We have come a long way from the founding of this nation in the 18th Century, the Civil War of the 19th Century and the Civil Rights advances of the 20th Century to the inauguration of the second president of the 21st Century who happens to be the first to have African ancestry in his heritage.

Best wishes to you and your family as you serve our nation, Mr. President!

And God bless America!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Culture: the things you can see on Youtube - mouse obstacle course!

The music is the Wide World of Sports Fanfare (I think?) followed by the Olympics Fanfare by John Williams!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Culture: Battlestar Galactica - the final episodes

Am late to the phenom.

The humans and the rebel Cylons form an uneasy truce, four of the final five Cylons are revealed and they arrive at earth ... only to find it is a wrecked planet.

And so that sets the stage for the final episodes to begin airing in 2009.

Click here for the teaser video.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Culture: 24 - Redemption

image source:

Jack is back!

Redemption - to offer something in exchange for something else.

In old days, when I was a kid, my parents would collect books of "Blue Chip Stamps" and exchange (redeem) them for various household items and toys.

In the story, Mr. Benton sacrificed his life in the minefield in exchange to help his boys escape. Jack gave up his freedom in exchange to get the boys into the embassy.

Thus, Mr. Benton and Jack were "Jesus figures" in this story.

Wonder if some theology student has written a Gospel according to 24?

Well, God can be found in unexpected places?!

There is after all a Gospels According to the Simpsons!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Multimedia message

Crowds at the polls in my neighborhood! Have 2 more corners to go! Have a great day and God bless the USA!

UPDATE: I cast my ballot a tad after 9AM! I was in line about 75 minutes!

UPDATE: As I drove to youth group this evening, the numbers, as expected, were going toward Obama. At 6:30 PM, Ohio was called for Obama and the hoped for "inside straight" by McCain was over.

Any casual reader of this blog knows I was a McCain supporter. Nonetheless, I extend my congratulations to President-elect Obama. As a proud citizen of America, I have never doubted that an ethnic minority could and would someday be elected president and so on this historic day, my prayers are for God's wisdom to be upon him and the team he will bring to Washington, good health and blessings upon him and his family and a spirit of good will to move within both sides of the political aisle.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Culture: Do rich people pay taxes?

Being a typical middle-class person, I hear a lot of people complain that the rich don't pay any taxes.

Biden says, it is the patriotic duty of rich people to pay more taxes.

Obama told "Joe the plumber" that he should pay more taxes to spread the wealth around.

So, do the rich pay taxes?

They indeed do pay taxes. The long arms of the IRS isn't letting them get away!

But, in the internet, many argue about whether or not the rich pay their "fair" share of taxes.

Fair of course is a pretty subjective term!

But take a look at these numbers and see what you think ...

Found this item from the Tax Policy Center.

That item is a little outdated (from 2000) and I'm curious if the numbers are still in the same ballpark. But it would appear that $65 of every $100 collected by the Federal government comes from the wealthiest 20% of the population. What I don't know from that table is whether these people make 65% of the money in the US economy.

This item is for 2004 put out by the Tax Foundation. Again the wealthy do pay more but whether they pay "enough" is something people will disagree on.

This item breaks it down by % of income earned in parallel with % of taxes paid for 2005. Here, scroll to page 2 for chart, it said the top 10% who make 46% of the income pay 70% of the taxes. HT: Tax Prof Blog. But of course, this only appears to cover only income tax. We do pay sales taxes, property taxes, social security taxes, etc.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sports: Game 5, 5:22pm

Going tonight!

My first time at Dodger's Stadium for a playoff game!

The fans will be passionate but let's keep it safe and sane.

For some perspective on the game, check out Weisman's latest:

Don't make this game into something it's not. Don't even give one night the potential to destroy what was accomplished over an entire season. Tonight's game is not about character. It's simply about hoping to experience that joy of victory at least one more time before the sun sets on 2008 and, like 28 other teams, you try to do better next year.

UPDATE: Will try to cell-phone blog tonight! Will see if it works?!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Culture: Battlestar Galactica

Is there a Cylon in my house?

I'm late to the pop sci-fi phenom the re-imaged Battlestar Galactica. I watched the original on ABC back in 1978.

I don't have cable tv (the "Cylon" is my new digital TV converter box) and I haven't watched seasons 1-3 on DVD. Rather, I've watched the last few episodes as they get posted on the Battlestar Galactica web site after it is aired.

The basic premise of the show is the same as the original 1978 ABC series: Cylons nearly wipe out all the humans in a sneak attack and the surviving humans form a ragtag fleet around the last Battlestar, Galactica, in a quest for the mythical lost 13th colony of humanity called earth.

However, the re-imagined version has added considerable complexities.

To catch up, I read this item on Salon which sums up everything very nicely.

Also, be sure to check out this summary on Beliefnet about the theology behind the show.

So who will be the last mystery Cylon?

Will they find earth?

Will the humans and Cylons live in peace?

Stay tuned!