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09 January 2018

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ISL

Thank you Richard for a pleasant essay.

I wonder if you are not describing the Sovietization of the US psyche... wherein the safest opinion to express is repeat the conventional wisdom or stick with platitudes. Free speech is not what it once was in our great republic, congress is once again for the sale and bidding of the highest bidder, there is socialism for the wealthy and austerity for the poor.

Alternatively, it is the Borg-ization of our culture. There was an interesting commentary on the Orville on the pre-occupation of the next generation with "likes" on facebook - I suspect it will further narrow the approved expressable socially acceptable thought.

If I find myself at similar gatherings, I tend to start up a conversation on the latest medical or science discoveries, as I find almost everyone remains interested in how not to die sooner, no matter how intellectually shallow their curiosity may be.

Account Deleted

Now that is interesting Babak. Sadly I know little of that most ancient of religions - would you be able to recommend one or more books in order that I may remedy this situation?

John Minnerath

Reference #24
Smart phones are an abomination. How can you have any sort of conversation with someone when they are absorbed by that electronic monster in their hand?
Even a brother of mine, who built a fantastic home by hand and lived completely off the grid for years finally had power brought in, at a considerable expense, and now raves about smart phones being the greatest technological advance of the century.
That's our century, since he's somewhat younger than me, but was still born not long after WWII.

SmoothieX12

I totally understand where the author comes from, and I mean totally. But I, personally, while sharing the sentiment somewhat, would rather live among down to earth simple but good-natured, decent people than socialize with highly sophisticated a-holes, probability of encountering which grows with the number (and "quality") of degrees they have. Sometimes complexity of the thought process easily transforms into sophisticated excuses for being a jerk. This is not to say that there are no a-holes among rednecks, quite a few, actually. But I love also:"the warmth of the huddled herd". This is very important part of our life.

Walker

Not me.

james

richard - sometimes i am happy and sometimes i am sad.. i don't view myself in some static constant way, maybe due the fact i am receptive to what comes up as it may. and yes - we all have shortcomings and it is good to keep them in mind too.. i don't think reading authors who are more intelligent then you removes the question of smugness.. these are just my impressions off reading your post.. i agree with your wife who you mentioned early in your post.. any conversation involves 2 people.. i find when someone is not comfortable or willing to converse, there is usually something that can be said to engage them. it sounds like you aren't or weren't inclined this way at the time.

i also agree with the comments that Le Renard Subtil made above.. there are a lot of reasons why a conversation may or may not happen. i couldn't relate to your conclusions, so much as your observations and i feel you have a hand in all that happens in any situation.. cheers james

Babak Makkinejad

https://www.amazon.com/Teachings-Magi-R-C-Zaehner/dp/0195198573

and

https://www.amazon.com/When-Zarathustra-Spoke-Reformation-Bibliotheca/dp/1568591845/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1515620369&sr=1-1&keywords=when+zarathustra+spoke

Account Deleted

Many thanks Babak

Jack

Oilman2,

I hear you and sympathize.

Since retiring we returned to our family ranch. Now my circle are other farmers, vets, winemakers, distillers, brewers, cheesemakers, and a motley crew of other retirees including artists, writers and executives who have "escaped" to wine country. Our conversations are about composting, crop rotation, pruning techniques, permaculture, fermenting and other assorted topics. I find them very interesting as I always learn something useful. I also have another circle who I hang out with at our local watering holes. They are mostly Deplorables, who I find refreshing as they have a lot of common sense and an unpretentious attitude. The next generation who I worked with in my professional life write and call me regularly with "Jack, did you know...". They keep me abreast on the world of finance. What I no longer have the time for are the sophistry of the so-called elites. The common political thread I hear among those I interact with regularly in our small community is a desire for a smaller government that spends less and interferes less in our lives.

When I need the intellectual stimulation and analysis of world affairs I come to SST. At this late stage of my life, I am grateful for the land and the beauty of America, warts and all. I am hopeful that my grandchildren and their children will guide America to its new place in the world. I know my generation let down our forefathers.

Patrick Armstrong

"I think we can agree, on empirical grounds, that most people are not interested in learning."
Yeah. Learning makes you uncomfortable and who wants to be that?

Linda

I don't attend many social gatherings and don't have a spouse to share afterthoughts with, but I am lucky to live in an area where there are lots of interesting people of many backgrounds with whom I share many delightful conversations. I love having friends of all ages and have easily been spared the company of those who spend their time buried in their cell phones. I too think that travel outside the US is more important for Americans than others since we can go thru life that is very narrow unlike almost all other countries where a broader prospective is pretty necessary. This is not to say that I have no experience with the sort of gatherings you talk about, but I manage to find many occasions for interesting conversation.

wtofd

Or an Englishman. Or French. Or Italian. Or...

elaine

The most interesting conversation I can recall about Zoroastrianism
was with an older oriental rug dealer. I asked him to tell me about the
carpets that had an abundance of pink in the threads.

And then there have been conversations by guests from various parts of Persia &/or Afghanistan that seemed amused that I enjoy keeping a live flame burning in the house unless it's very hot outside...something about the flame gets them going on about Zoroastrianism & the pre-Islamic world.

So called conversations with many Americans unfortunately start off with
mini interrogations like, "What do you do?", trying to catch the exact spelling of my name to google me, etc...total turn-offs. I'm very sympathetic to many of the comments on this thread...then there's p.c.
the true killer of many interesting conversations. I can't recall an
interesting dinner conversation in over 20 years, perhaps longer. The best exchanges at social events are usually outside where a few smokers congregate until the anti-smokers show up to cough & bring it all to an end.


Virginia Slim

"One seeks a midwife for his thoughts; another, someone to whom he can be a midwife. Thus originates a good conversation."

Babak Makkinejad

"They keep me dear in the Mage House,
For the everlasting Fire burns in our Heart"

- Hafiz

LeaNder

Your description of the daughter going on and on reminds me of an smart phone addicted niece of mine.

I was a bit puzzled by the setting admittedly. I get it that the daughter seems to be excited, talks and talks. But what caused the delay to start with? Supposing the "small party" is a couple with their kids, one daughter absent, plus Richard and his wife. Were father and son present before the arrival? Was there no chance to talk to father and son? Shift the conversation to give either one a chance?

Remember, as a member of the group, I did not want to stir up conflict; I only wanted to stir up interest.

So, one daughter is absent, does she miss her? Will she miss her brother next year. Will she visit him in Croatia?

Some people talk a lot, not since they have to always take center stage, but since they try to hide a basic insecurity in whatever context.

I wondered about that, admittedly:
In any case, everyone was glassy-eyed when the daughter finished.

And then it was time to leave?

ex-PFC Chuck

Davis @ #18
No not everyone here knows the punchline. Or is that in itself the joke?

Down_in_Front

Bruce Cockburn (Canadian musician/songwriter) has a line, 'The trouble with normal is it always gets worse.'

Procopius

I am socially inept, so I do not understand the picture presented. Was this a party, or a lecture? Or a twelve-step group meeting? When I have gone to people's homes there was not one person speaking while all others sat silently and listened. There were multiple conversations going on in different parts of the room, or different rooms of the house. If Mr. Sale wanted to ask the young man about his experiences so far with the State Department, why didn't he just go talk to him? I'm a member of a twelve-step group, and I know the format there is for everybody to sit quietly until the current speaker is done, but before and after the meeting there are usually several separate conversations outside the meeting place. I don't get it (I also didn't go below the fold, the first part of the story was too unsettling).

richard sale

James
You know nothing about me yet you label me as smug. I admire your certainty.

Richard Sale

English Outsider


Mr Sale,

Spot on, more's the pity, though things do get livelier when one meets a fellow deplorable. Just one minor point. I'm worried about this bit:-

"After that, we had to listen to an endless discussion about whether or not it was good to use boiling water as opposed to warm water when you make tea. The decision was that boiling water acts to make the tea bitter so it’s better to use warm."

I'd like to have been there. I might have swung the meeting in favour of orthodoxy. Sounds as if you have some friends who need help. Lots of help. Water off the boil, as I remind my German pals now and again, is barbaric. (Not all my German pals. There are some of the true faith over there.) Mind you, I read that way back some Americans attempted to make tea with cold salt water. Caused quite a lot of fuss and must have tasted awful. Glad to hear you've at least graduated to warm tap water.

So in fact that conversation could have opened up into a most interesting discussion on whether those rascals in Boston were freedom fighters or just worried about defending market share. And on to how those fifty aristocrats in a barn came up with a Constitution that at present seems (in spite of my fiercely insular prejudices) as if it might deliver more promising results than ours.

Yes, I'd like to have been there. Nihil humani a me alienum puto, even tea. Especially tea, really, if you have countrymen who deviate so far from the paths of righteousness as to embrace the heresy of warm water.

LeaNder

English Outsider:

Concerning tea and water temperature. Seems with green tea (supposedly more healthy) there is this issue/discussion if the water should not be quite at boiling temperature. Admittedly in GB I may have not been too close enough to the P.O.S.H. society to see or witness the better tea culture. What's your approach to tea? The teabag?

Anyway: I am a bit impatient, beyond not really having a thermometer around. Thus yes, I don't pay attention.

The best green tea, I ever had, was a good-buy present from Japanese business visitors taking over a part of the firm I was working for. Ultimately outsourced to China? No more problems with color issues once imported back? Whole leaves. If I would try to get it regularly around here, only checked a place close to here that closed down, it would be so hellishly expensive that I can assure you I would pay attention to the temperature, since the expense for the thermometer would be a minor issue.

But yes, more generally the Japanese tea ceremony is quite fascinating.

Adrestia

Sehnsucht

Although there always has been a yearning for a past that is no more, IMO this time alas it is probably true.

A friend of mine used to say: "The television is on and the brains are off" There is more than a little truth in it. Today we live in a visual age where television, internet, tablets and smart phones are the main information carriers used.

Visual information is easy and doesn't cost a lot of energy. Reading is much harder and forces someone to create his own images. IMO this is the best way. It also helps to create a focus and develop your own creativity. It requires an active interaction with the written word. Visual information is passive.

Visual information is often superficial and not able to transmit or explain complex abstract ideas. For example I have only one example (and alas I don't remember which one) where the film was better than the book.

English Outsider


LeaNder - teabags? TEABAGS??? And on the Colonel's site.

I knew some of your compatriots who travelled to Ceylon and saw what was used for teabags. They reported back. I'm not saying the road outside was swept as well but none of them have used those vile artefacts since.

However. No consideration has as yet been given to the all-important question of site tea. Thermos or brew-up in situ? Greater minds than ours have addressed the question but it is still unresolved. The very greatest minds I remember seeing in action once. It made an indelible impression. I came on site early just as the men were setting up. It was a small job, lasting only a week or so. A neighbour poked her head out of the window to see what was going on. To be greeted by a cheery summons "Bacon sandwich and tea around eleven, luv." And there was. Every day, apparently, and for the entire team. Did they know the lady in question, I enquired later. Never met her before, they said, won't meet her again, but she got the bacon just right. Makes you feel humble, doesn't it, to think of that level of virtuosity.

Back to life as we ordinary mortals know it. Assam Royale makes a tolerable brew over your way. It needs time. Give it lots. The Frisians are of course our first cousins in this as in so many other things and make tea impeccably. Give Ostfriesen Teemischung a whirl. If in England a good solid tea is Yorkshire Red Label. It's one of the few English everyday teas that the accountants haven't reduced the quality of in the hope we won't notice.

That tapping noise, by the way, is Mr Sale's foot. We'd better leave the question of milk first or not, and I think we'd better skip the question of the correct preparation of Green Tea altogether. Pity. So little said, so much to say. Another thing Mr Rhodes got right - I think I remember this quote accurately as well - was that when it comes to making tea the English have won first prize in the lottery of life. Don't be jealous. When it comes to coffee the first prize is undoubtedly yours.

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Cecil_Rhodes

One of our own neocons. I go with the Mark Twain quote at the bottom.

LeaNder

thanks EO. Love it when "luv" surfaces somewhere. Feels a bit home. :)

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