Category: Culture

The Irreplaceable Survives the Interchangeable

Conformity may be craven, but it is a powerful and common survival strategy throughout nature. “Blending into the herd” works often enough. But for many reasons, conformity fails in the long run. Why? Because in imitating the crowd, the conformist becomes interchangeable with every other member of that crowd. If he is lost, it is […]

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Every Man His Own Dominion

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” The Book of Genesis Whatever […]

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The (Older) American Dream

When most of us hear of “the American dream,” we think of a house in the suburbs with a little white picket fence. How did the American dream get so lame? There was another American dream before that (as there have been many over time). It was the dream of 40 acres of land – […]

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Your Nature Is What Makes Your Culture Unique

If you’re like me, you probably think that the world is becoming too small of a place – that things are getting too “same-ish” and average wherever you go. I want the different parts of the world to get weird again. But what made our cultures unique to begin with? There are many factors that […]

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Stop Productizing Adventure

It used to be that adventure was something you had – not something you could purchase with a credit card. Now there’s an “adventure industry.” A lot of things seem to be going this way. Now you can buy the experience of connecting with nature. You can buy the experience of becoming a sailor. You […]

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“New and Sleek” Is Getting Kind of Boring

What makes for a good gym? I was checking out a local one online recently and noticed that it had all-new (or else very recent) equipment and that polished, clean, modern, “new” look which seems so common in many chain gyms these days. It occurred to me that this is what lots of folks seem […]

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Words are the Ultimate Hand-Me-Downs

It’s funny the words you guess when you’re playing Boggle, or Scrabble, or word-games like that. Some of them you don’t even know the meaning of until you look them up. One my opponent tried was “ween”, which derives from old Germanic roots through to an old English origin. It means “to think/to be of […]

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What Are Your Cultural Exports?

There was the time I made my Mom’s chocolate cake recipe for friends for the first time. There was the time I brought a locally-grown watermelon and sunflowers (from our own farm) to share with coworkers at the office. Then there were all the times I shared people have remarked on the way I treat […]

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What Makes Your Family Different?

There’s a term I learned in church world: “cultural distinctive.” It basically means “what makes you different from everybody else,” and it’s a very important thing to understand, for yourself and for any group of which you’re a part. My family has a few of these distinctives that are notable. We hail from farmers and […]

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You’ll Have To Be a Little Crazy To Return to Normalcy

“I cant wait to get back to normal. I’m tired of this social distancing.” Who among us hasn’t expressed some thought like this in the past month? We all want to get back to eating at restaurants, strolling about in crowded cities, mingling with the opposite sex, and giving strong handshakes to colleagues. There’s just […]

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The Slouching Society

Once upon a time men wore suits and women wore dresses on every occasion – they even dressed well in the home. People set tables, ate in courses, and spoke civilly. They stood up straight. They expected beauty and excellence in manners not just for society, but within families and among friends and even alone. […]

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There’s the Curse of Clutter, But There’s Also the Gift of a Full Attic

It can be a pain to inherit the overwhelming clutter of another generation. And my generation (or perhaps generation X) will have perhaps adopted enough minimalist habits that it will pass on less of itself to the next kids to come along. I suppose that’s alright – decluttering has its benefits. But those of us […]

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Cultural Diversity Requires Cultural Homogeneity

It is a mistake to view cultural diversity and cultural homogeneity as enemies – in fact, they need each other. The diversity of a city like New York has historically come not from “diversity training” a bunch of diverse people, but by bringing together a bunch of very culturally-distinctive people: Italians, Irish, English, Puerto Ricans, […]

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Don’t Netflix Your Way Through Crises

One thing I find especially bothersome about the response to the COVID-2019 pandemic is the common meme telling average people to “just stay home and watch Netflix.” What does it say about us that this is a common idea of how to respond to a major crisis? The Netflix prescription is a passive, helpless, hopeless […]

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Yo Don’t Have To be Selfless In a Crisis- Just Be Useful

Want to help your neighbors during the COVID-2019 coronavirus pandemic? You don’t necessarily have to do it for free. Some of the most useful people will be people who are doing remunerative work. There are nurses and doctors, yes. But there are also sanitation workers, engineers, truck drivers, electricians, farmers, mechanics, and countless others who […]

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Panic When the Public Isn’t Panicking

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffett This is fine advice for a financial catastrophe, but it has a corollary in other disasters as well. Case in point: coronavirus. It’s generally not a good idea to freak out about what the media and the public are freaking […]

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Coronavirus and the World As You Know It

Yesterday I went to a gorgeous, clean, brightly-lit, colorful, fully-stocked grocery store. I found just what I wanted (free range eggs were even on sale!), brought it to an express aisle, chatted with a smiling and friendly cashier, and went on my way. I dropped the old “how are you doing today?” with the cashier […]

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Glimpes of Hidden America

I’m a pretty cynical guy when it comes to nation-states. So it might be surprising to hear that I sort of love in the vision of America most of us learned in school. It’s a place where people generally tell the truth, work hard, love their families, help each other, stand up for the weak, […]

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Uber Driving and My Nightlife Education

Few things will make a man feel more like a square country rube than driving for Uber in Atlanta on a weekend night. Last night I picked up a genuine “nightlife influencer”, who explained his business and how he does the job of inviting attractive women to clubs (who then attract paying men). Tonight I […]

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The Appeal of Steampunk

Steampunk, n. a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology. Tonight I finished a rewatch of the early 00’s Disney film Treasure Planet, a retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island which replaces the high seas with outer space and combines Victorian culture and […]

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The Fatal Weakness of the God of Cynicism

We live in a culture of overpowering cynicism. We assume the media is bending truth. We assume people won’t speak their full minds to our faces. We assume companies, organizations, and governments will try to pull one over on us. We assume love, friendship, and honor are hollow ideals. As products of this overpowering cynicism, […]

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“The Parent Trap” Could Have Been Written By Shakespeare

Just rewatched this film (on Disney+) with my brother. It’s probably one of the best comedies produced in the 1990s, but it’s timeless in a way that makes me think even Shakespeare could have staged it. If you haven’t seen it, The Parent Trap begins as the story of two twins – raised separately by […]

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Jojo Rabbit: A Choice Between Authentic and False Community

“You’re not a Nazi, Jojo. You’re a ten year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club.” – Jojo Rabbit You know it’s a good movie when you clap spontaneously, laugh like a maniac, and feel your heart torn to shreds in the same two-hour stretch. […]

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Halloween: a Yearly Reminder of Your Limitless Potential

Halloween is a brilliant time of year. For one day, it’s socially acceptable for anyone – from carefree child to corporate office adult – to put on a costume and be someone else. At work today, my coworkers transformed into a demon, a little Red Riding Hood, a wizard, a nun, and hackers. I wore […]

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Why You Should Sing In Public

The other night “Dancing in the Street” came on in Publix while I was doing my grocery shopping. Naturally, I sang along. Then I walked past the dude from the meat department (or some other Publix employee). I kept singing. This is not something I might have done a few years ago. I would have […]

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The Silver Lining of Social Media’s Negativity Obsession (and How To Defeat It)

Shockingly evil things + news often seem to defeat good things + good news in the war for human attention, especially on social media, TV, etc. There’s one silver lining to all this, though: The good is going to have to become that much better to stand out and win. Good people are going to […]

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Lead a Life That Confuses the Archaeologists

If you want to lead a good life, a good rule of thumb is to live a life that is not merely the product of your age. Your life shouldn’t be reducible to the dominant forces and trends of your surrounding culture. In other words, your life’s footprint shouldn’t be easy for the archaeologists and […]

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Don’t Underestimate the Resilience and Resourcefulness of the Homeless

You can say (people do say) many things about homeless people. But a fact that is under-appreciated is just how resilient and resourceful they often are. There’s a woman who lives on an overpass near Atlantic Station. For some time, I assumed the poor woman needed help or aid of some kind, so I brought […]

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How Do We Make Truth Faster Than Falsehood?

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.” A lot of people complain about fake news, but I’ve spent enough time in my career trying to debunk it that this is personal. And I don’t just want to accept that clickbait articles, rapid conclusion-jumping, uncharitable interpretation, […]

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A Glimpse of a Car-Less Urban Future: Atlanta Streets Alive

Atlanta is world-renowned for its awful traffic. Today we received a surprising receive: 9 miles of streets from Buckhead to Decatur roped off for use by pedestrians, skaters, bikers, and scooters (that’s what you call people on scooters, right?) Enter Atlanta Streets Alive. I couldn’t refuse this call to adventure. Today I got to see […]

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