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My dear friend and professional colleague, EM, and I were sitting in a courtroom the other day, discussing simple homespun adages from The South.

We both have a soft spot for pithy precepts and little aphorisms that gladden the heart and give us words by which to live.

A well-coined phrase from south of the Mason-Dixon line [1] speaks to our depths.

Here’s an example…

Those who stir the shit… should be made to lick the spoon!

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Someone should put that one on a doily.  Ah’m serious!

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[1] The Mason–Dixon line (or Mason’s and Dixon’s line) was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in the resolution of a border dispute between British colonies in Colonial America. It is a demarcation line among four U.S. states, forming part of the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia (then part of Virginia). (Wikipedia)

In popular usage, the Mason–Dixon line symbolizes a cultural boundary between the Northeastern and the Southern United States (Dixie).

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Every once in a while, fashion – like art, music, food, children and other aspects of one’s life – goes through an unfortunate phase.

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One such phase occurred in the 19th century.

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The bustle.

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I’m not sure if this fashion tort will ever again inflict its beasty society upon right-thinking members of society.

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We cannot, however, become too complacent about this issue.

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Our watchword must be, “Ceaseless Vigilance!”

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Following my Freedom of the Press Worldwide atlas, I bring you…

The Bribery Atlas!

Percentage of a country’s population that has paid bribes.

bribe-map(The Baksheesh Boys!)

Again, it pans out pretty much as I thought it might.

Glad to see the Italian bribery percentage is as low as it is.

As for the No Data category, perhaps the makers of this map should have bribed some government officials for the stats.

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This world map pretty much confirms what we in the west already suspect.

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Room for improvement in much of the world.

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If you’ve spent any time in The South, I’m fairly confident that you will have heard your fair share of “sirs” and “ma’ams,” and in a culture and society where civility and common decency… let alone chivalry… are becoming all but extinct, this is breath of fresh air.

Etiquette… manners, for lack of a better word… is still taught in many segments of The South.

In polite circles, gentlemen still stand when a lady enters the room. Gentlemen nod with perhaps the slightest of bows when they take their leave of a lady. Doors are opened for ladies. Chairs are pulled out and tucked in. “Ladies first” rarely needs to be said… it is a given.

The old saying is that if a woman’s car breaks down at the side of the road, all she has to do is lift the hood and stand by her car. Not 5 minutes will go by before some gentleman… even a truckload of them… will pull up and offer her a hand. My dearly beloved friend from Arkansas, Danielle, confirms this. “Hell… they LIVE for that kind of stuff!”

In grocery stores, gentlemen routinely allow ladies to go ahead in the checkout line. If a lady needs a shopping cart (or buggy, as they are often called), a gentleman will offer to give her his own.

While not born or raised in The South, I’ve adopted the practice of calling just about everyone Sir or Ma’am. I get mixed reactions, to be sure. Some girls think it is quaint or cute. Some women take it as a remark that they look older than they are.

One lady, I believe at the post office, smiled wistfully and said to me, “I can’t remember the last time someone called me Ma’am!”

She patted my arms and said, “Don’t ever stop doing that.”

I do not intend to!

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Saw this disturbing article the other day at the Telegram.co.uk…

Chinese toddler’s karaoke tantrum ends in bloodbath

Now before you have visions of berserk toddlers going on a murderous rampage, let me assure you that is not the case. Well, at least not here.

(Somebody is NOT happy!)

It was more like…

“Toddler’s refusal to give up the microphone during a

family karaoke evening started a quarrel that left

two men hacked to death with a meat cleaver!”

(Are you ready to rumble??)

OK, here’s what happened. A couple were celebrating the Qixi Festival (i.e. China’s Valentine’s Day), with a singing session at a local karaoke parlour. So far, so good. Trouble starts when the parents’ four-year-old son hogs the karaoke mike and the doting parents were indulging him. [1]

(Beijing… we have a problem)

Mayhem ensues when two of the karaoke kid’s uncles berate the father for having raised such a spoiled child;  a “Little Emperor”, as the Chinese say [2]. Push literally comes to shove, then shoving proceeds to punching. A nephew grabs a meat cleaver and hacks the uncles to death.

(The problem solver)

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Karaoke-related violence is a real problem in the East.

Other karaoke massacres have taken place in the Philippines, where the Frank Sinatra song ‘My Way‘ has had to be removed from many songbooks after sub-standard renditions provoked a string of killings.

(Clearly a trouble-maker)

In Thailand, meanwhile, a man shot eight of his neighbours, including his brother-in-law, after tiring of their tuneless reprisals of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads.’

(An incitement to violence)

In the United States, a woman punched a man for continuing to sing Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ after she had told him he was not up to the task.

(It would have driven Mother Teresa to violence)

In her defence… it WAS a karaoke version of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow!’

Ghandi would have punched this guy out!

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[1] NB: Karaoke is taken very seriously, not just in China but throughout Asia.

[2] There is no shortage of criticism inside China for the bad behaviour of the Little Emperors, the children raised under the strict one-child policy and doted on by their parents and grandparents.

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My bacon blog articles have provoked a steady stream of photos and suggestions.

Here are just a few.

From my very own daughter, Exhibit One…

(Hello Kitty Bacon!)

From my darling friend Michele Waters…

(Maple Bacon Gelato)

From a dearly beloved friend in The South…

(You can’t be serious! This must be a joke!)

Just when you thought breakfast couldn’t get any faster…

(Breakfast in a cup!)

And from a geeky nerdling friend of mine…

(Bacon Imperial Walker!)

I’ve come to the conclusion that bacon… like death, taxes and zombies… is unavoidable.

(Sweet Lord Almighty!)

Bacon is the black hole of food.

(Refleshing!)

Its pull is just too great. Nothing can escape it!

(It’s the real thing!)

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated!

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