Sunday, September 24, 2006
Many foreign policy decisions occur due to a lack of sensitivity and understanding of other cultures. Many Americans have not traveled outside the United States. I was told that President Bush had never been to Europe until he became president.

In Anthropology 101 we learned that people tend to think of the foods they eat, clothes they wear, social and family roles, mating rituals, as well as our belief systems as normal and all other cultures' systems of belief and behavior as strange or worse.

When the English make fun of the French, they call them froggers. The English do not eat snails and frogs. There are laws pending prohibiting the export of wild horses overseas for human consumption, yet we think bovine carcasses are normal and in Texas, there must be places where anyone who doesn't consume them with gusto is viewed with suspicion.

Is there a reason that eggs and cereal are consumed in the morning instead of at night?

When I first heard of acupuncture, I thought it was barbaric superstition. Although I have never tried it, I began to think that anything that has endured for five or six thousand years might have some beneficial effects. Chinese medicine with its herbs and dietary recommendations developed in complete isolation to today's modern medical pharmaceutical and clinical system.

What sounds like complete simpleminded (nontechnical, nonscientific) terminology, such as the winds and rivers and channels in the body and some superstitious force they call "chi" -- which sounds suspiciously like the force in Star Wars movies -- form the basis of Chinese medicine.

One fellow from Colorado I think it was went and studied Chinese medicine and created an audiotape series describing the Chinese view of the human body, its illnesses, and cures. I was surprised to find out that the Chinese are not into salads since they believe in cooking all vegetables (not for the reason you might think)**. I was surprised that summer delicacies like peaches and strawberries were also viewed as things to be avoided.

Just as visiting other cultures expands one's mind about the cultural indoctrinations that all people go through in the family and school environment, listening to this distilled view of Chinese medicine opened my mind to alternative possibilities of thinking.

In a Comparative World Religions class I learned a bit about Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu is a brief book that forms the basis of Taoism (the letter T is pronounced like D evidently in Chinese). It has many interesting insights and I think it is a world treasure.

The Tao Te Ching says that a cup or bowl though fashioned out of materials is useful because of the empty space, as are windows and doors. It also talks about water as the weakest most shape-adapting thing in nature, yet with the power to carve out a Grand Canyon (not an exact quote from this 2500-year-old document).

At Audible.com, you can hear a recording of the Tao Te Ching. I have only listened to the free sample from it, but it's supposed to be an "authoritative translation." You can also listen to Chinese Secrets of Health and Longevity by author Bob Flaws.

** Cooking vegetables does destroy some nutrients, but allows many nutritional elements to be more easily accessible to the body. This is why the Chinese value soups and stews, according to Dr. Flaws.

BTW, Dr. Kellogg advocated cereals for breakfast as a means of lowering the libido. Maybe we started eating eggs for breakfast from farm life where an early morning chore was to gather eggs from the chickens. Or maybe because they're quickly prepared.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Attn: baby boomers

If music was a significant part of your life in the 1960s, if you had a record collection and the words 33 and a third RPM are significant to you, a significant part of your cultural understanding has been missing until now.

I just finished watching "Smile" on DVD. This was a conceptual album/rock opera that was never completed by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys until recently.

I rented the DVD from Blockbuster.com. They sent me disc 1 of a two disc set which was a set of documentary and rehearsal segments explaining why the work was unfinished for 30 years and how it came to be completed and performed.

This set the context and the back story of the work and its creator's struggles.

I returned disc 1 and added disc 2 to the top of my queue and just finished watching it.

There is a gap in your picture of the exuberant music period that began with the Beatles and ended after Woodstock. Smile is an enjoyable, catchy, lively, musically original, cleverly performed work that is unified by a vision of flying over the United States from Plymouth Rock to Hawaii.
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