Thanksgiving 2019

(the following are a few thoughts that went through my mind this Thanksgiving as I was snowed in. Since I was by myself I had time to write them down)

On this Thanksgiving day I want to acknowledge the gentle people. I think of the many native peoples who were erased from this earth [1], or enslaved. I think of visionaries and geniuses who were killed or imprisoned because they thought differently. I also think of women, who did not have access to education and, in too many places on this planet, still don’t. It also brings to my mind the many recluses and hermits who walked into the woods and mountains, to get away from humanity.

For millennia a brutish man could be very successful. This kind of man would offer a sense of security to a mate and could therefore pass on his genes. Because there was always a war, there was always an opportunity for a man of strength to become a hero. Those heroes might have been much more brave than they were intelligent, they were brutal, even psychopathic, but they were considered heroes nonetheless. The bully has been a pretty successful model of a human, at least in terms of Natural Selection. The gentle people paid the price, all over the world. Our genetic programming does not favor the gentle people and in many cases their DNA was lost to humanity. I fear that if human DNA was programmed by Gods, it was a junior God’s first project and he or she didn’t have a lot of experience and very little foresight.

Humans are this planet’s most powerful and utterly dominant predator. Now our survival will depend on turning bullies into gentle people. Can the competitor become a collaborator? We believe that we are better now, more civilized and less violent, but in truth we have only exchanged the physicality of swords and fists for the power of computers, the internet, and social media. The bullying is now done with a keyboard. Instead of practicing sword fighting or aiming a gun at a target, we aim zeros and ones at each other. The effect is worse. Nobody sees the wounds, there is no smell of blood. The victims live to suffer another day. The old bully wore a uniform and carried weapons, the new bully weaponizes words and monetizes data. The old-fashioned bully took his chance in a fight that he might, albeit rarely, loose. There was always that slim possibility that his victim might get the upper hand. Bullying by keyboard involves no such risk of bodily harm. Anyone can do it.

We CAN revolt against natural selection. The planet will heat up, millions of species will be erased. We need to change OURSELVES. We need to grow, despite our programming and against our programming! The great human hack of the 21st century… to become a new species, homo sapiens 2.0.

[1] Estimates, of course, vary greatly, but up to 100 million people lived in the Americas before the Europeans arrived… 90% of them were killed. While most died from the viruses the Europeans brought with them, many of them died in the most carelessly cruel way. And that’s just the Americas…

Colors

Pantone announced that Classic Blue would be the color of 2020.

I like blue. It’s, perhaps, my favorite color. I have worn more blue clothes than any other color. But is it a good color at this point in time? To have the blues means one is sad or down. In German slang the words “Ich bin blau!”, I am blue, mean that I am drunk. I think a green color would have been more appropriate, considering everything that’s going on with the environment.

Likewise I wasn’t impressed with Pantone’s choice for this year, 2019, Living Coral:

In 2018, when coral reefs were bleaching at an alarming rate, the announcement seemed like a rather tone deaf idea.

Makes me wonder, how do they arrive at selecting the color of the year? In any case, they could do better, I think.

Chopsticks

When I am on tour I usually carry a plate, a bowl, and a set of utensils, wrapped furoshiki-style in a cloth, in my suitcase. In some venues the caterers use plastic, even though we ask them not to in our contract rider, and I can avoid the waste by bringing my own. A pair of chopsticks is always in my backpack. For about a decade I have carried around an older version of these chopsticks, made by Snow Peak – see also this post about their coffee mug. There is an old post from May 2007 … and a photo on Flickr – remember Flickr?? These new Snow Peak chopsticks are made with metal handles and bamboo tips, but my older model used discarded baseball bats instead of bamboo. I like them because they collapse, which I didn’t figure out right away… (Matt, didn’t you show me this?)

Snow Peak also has silicon tipped steel chopsticks, and a quick search on Amazon will show that you can buy 5 pairs of stainless steel chopsticks for about $7. In other words, there are many alternatives to those throw-away chopsticks, made out of bamboo or wood, that are used in most Asian restaurants – except in Korean restaurants, where they use steel chopsticks. Consider taking your own chopsticks next time.

More about chopsticks…
Chinese chopsticks are the longest and are very useful for snatching that last dumpling from the lazy susan in the middle of the table. Japanese chopsticks are the shortest, perhaps because in Japan one usually lifts a bowl up when taking food from it, which means reach isn’t important. Korean chopsticks are unique in all of Asia, because they are flat and made from metal.

And why oh why do restaurants still serve water with a plastic straw, without asking? That happened to me several times on tour last month – I learned to request “no straw” before even sitting down. If you love straws, why not bring your own?

PS: I often eat potato chips with chopsticks, especially when I don’t want to mess up my hands because I am reading a book…. :-)

FETE CD and USB Flash Card

FETE CD and USB Flash Card now available for a limited time. Click on the image to open the page on Bandcamp.

Screen Shot 2019 12 01 at 18 49 22

Sunset

Thanksgiving

I was invited to dinner and made bread to take with me. As the day went on it became clear that my little car might not be able to negotiate the snow that was piling up. So I stayed home. Fresh bread and Haitian rum can be a satisfying meal. :-)

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