CITIUS-ALTIUS-FORTIUS: Musing on why the Olympics Matter

The world needs a moment. After a turbulent year of crises and tragedies and an expletivey summer of political carping, we’re all exhausted. We need some kittens and Corgies and rainbows and plenty of stories of humans helping each other, overcoming odds in order to triumph and – lookee here – we have some of that coming right up. Sixteen days of glory should be just what we need.

Citius…Altius…Fortius – Faster. Higher. Stronger.
–The Olympic motto

The Olympics were created by the Greeks @776 BC to honor their gods and celebrate the human spirit of striving and achievement. They took their Muses seriously and incorporated inspiration into their everyday actions. When the Games took place, a truce was called while athletes from throughout the known world came to compete. Gee, that sounds like a good idea! Over time, the religious purity of the events tarnished somewhat and after several hundred years, the corruption and professionalization of athletes overshadowed the games, and suppression of the old religions by new Christian monarchs ended the games in 394 AD. But a thousand year ride ain’t bad. Continue reading “CITIUS-ALTIUS-FORTIUS: Musing on why the Olympics Matter”

PokeFrenzy: Social Crisis or Just a Walk in the Park?

The world these days seems to be divided between those who run toward and those who run away from Super Popular Trendiness. Some are always eager to follow the hordes and others always eager to stand apart. But often, people gravitate both ways, pulled strongly towards one pole then the other depending on interests, personality, craving for company, or available free time.

The Pokemon Go phenomenon is shining a spotlight on these two opposing views. Everyone starts talking about playing it; then suddenly everyone is talking how they are NOT going to participate. People are either enthusiastic or horrified; there doesn’t seem to be much of a reaction in between. And in our boom and bust communication cycles, a weekend of news about this games popularity is invariability followed by “world-ending” stories about car crashes, muggings, and even national security breaches attributed to li’l ol’ Pikachu. Continue reading “PokeFrenzy: Social Crisis or Just a Walk in the Park?”

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Warning: Contains potential Spoilers from Shakespeare, A Christmas Carol, Pride & Prejudice, and Game of Thrones

20160720 ShakesBear

SF Shakespeare Fest, pikore.co #ShakesBear

It’s summer; it’s time for Shakespeare. There’s Shakespeare in the park, Shakespeare in your local theaters, and plenty at your local library. Go watch some! (although you have my permission to skip over Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Coriolanus, Titus Andronicus, and Australopithecus.) The library will surely have an excellent version A Midsummer Night’s Dream. How can you beat Titania in love with Bottom who has been transformed into a donkey… “methought I was enamoured of an ass….”?

Our favorite tales – the ones that resonate with our modern sensibilities – are stories of reconciliation and redemption. I recently watched an excellent version of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale under the stars that showed the power of people seeking and receiving true forgiveness stands at the heart of our most beloved stories.

We learned in school that Shakespeare wrote Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. For years, the way I remembered the comedies and tragedies were by the ending – people dead? Tragedy. Wedding? Comedy. Unless there’s “King” in the title, then it’s a History. Now, please note it was people who came after the playwright who created the categories. Shakespeare wrote whatever the hell he* wanted, then later on people grouped and interpreted and analyzed them ad nauseum. Many of the tragedies have funny elements and many of the comedies have very dark themes. Continue reading “Exit, Pursued by a Bear”

Journey through History, Filtered

Outside the car windows it’s dark, but hundreds of red lights glow on the road ahead. The smell of exhaust from idling cars seeps in over the chemical tang of the air conditioner. I can’t hear the engine because my mom has turned up the radio so high. The droning voices are interrupted periodically with cheering, but, from the back seat, I can’t quite hear them. When I can, I have no idea what they’re talking about. Suddenly my mother shouts, waking my brother snoozing next to me, “Agnew! Who the hell is Spiro Agnew?”

It was August 8, 1968. I was seven years old and we were stuck in traffic, late on a Thursday night driving from our summer cabin back to Detroit, my mother listening to the Republican convention. Continue reading “Journey through History, Filtered”

The Past Is Not What it Used to Be

Suppose you are looking at dinosaurs…

What do you mean you have not seen any dinosaurs recently? Do you not have any children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or little neighbors, or do you not know someone else who has children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or little neighbors? Surely, you know someone who has access to a young person, and it is summertime, therefore, you can take them to a science museum or natural history museum or for heaven’s sake a Toys-R-Us to look at some dinosaurs.

As I was saying…

The collection you are looking at is probably not all, in fact, dinosaurs. As a general rule, dinosaurs in the Mesozoic age, aka the “Age of the Dinosaurs,” did not swim or fly. Those giant things in the water that looked like a turtle crossed with a giraffe? Or had teeth and flippers bigger than your head? Not dinosaurs. The thing with the membrane stretched across one finger, depicted gliding across the hundred foot fern trees? Not dinosaurs.  This is true, even though most museum exhibits and reference books will include pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mososaurs.  They might as well have included crocodiles or gekkos while they were at it. Continue reading “The Past Is Not What it Used to Be”