Jan 17/12

"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse...."

So defined the quiet power of Don Vito Corleone, who took care of his family by almost any means necessary in his new home of America. Ruthless though he was, most people sympathize with him. As my father said: "He was fair."

The concept of a smaller, more effective order within the larger one is fascinating. Organized crime embodies the idea; thus, people crave to watch movie after movie centred on gangsters. However, other manifestations of the idea also draw the crowds: rogue spy rings, cops, and even Tyler Durden's collective in Fight Club.

Belonging is important to people. I think one reason is that they long for protection. People know that if they make noticeable, valuable contributions to a group, that group will want to protect them. From that point of view, belonging to a small group is better, because your contributions are more obvious. Therefore, you will be more appreciated.

However, Vito Corleone and Tyler Durden...neither had the option to just join a group for protection. Each had to start his own. In doing so, they became great.

One final notice: each group has its own rules and principles. Usually what forms a new group is the philosophy that certain principles cannot be compromised, even if in the larger society people are. While the group sticks to its guiding philosophy, it can flourish. However, eventually someone within starts to compromise, and then the group collapses. It gets reabsorbed by the larger society it had broken from for awhile.

Sources: IMDb and IMDb

Vito Corleone Home

Jan 18/12

John Lennon

John Lennon remains an icon, even among people too young to have ever seen him. He stands for peace and of course for the Beatles. I remember the day he was shot.

From what I know, Lennon (post-Beatles) settled down to a fairly private life in New York City. The last cause he actively supported was world peace. I remember his famously saying that "The Beatles don't need [support]...world peace does."

Lennon was definitely an idealist - and I agree with some key ideas of his. His stand against materialism in "Imagine":

Imagine no possessions....I wonder if you can

resonates with me. I think we, as a culture, put far too much emphasis on having "nice" things and keeping them "nice". (Who really cares if a wooden table has a mark on it? It's still functional.) Many people define themselves by their possessions - which I think is very silly. However, you can see possessions - and most people, regardless of how shallow it is, continue to judge others by appearance. Having no possessions - or at least no "defining" ones - would definitely solve the problem of judgement by appearance. So I think John had that issue exactly right.

A disagreement I have with John, however, concerns General Mao. I have to say that, even though I'm a free-marketeer, I'm also very sympathetic towards Maoism. In certain contexts, Maoism makes a lot of sense, which is why it continues to surface all over the world. I'm not saying that we should abandon the free market and follow Maoism. I do, however, believe Maoism is much better than the feudal system it replaced in China. Moreover, I believe it could be a vast improvement over many governments today.

When Lennon says, in the song "Revolution",

But if you go carrying posters of General Mao
You ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow

I can't help but believe John's being derogatory and that Mao doesn't deserve it. Furthermore, what's this "make it with anyone" business, anyway? I hope we have a better metric for what's sensible than who "makes it with" whom.

So, in the end, I'll say this: John Lennon was a great mind. I think he was right in finding fault with our materialism over here. On the other hand, I think he was wrong in finding fault with General (later, of course, Chairman) Mao over there.

I'll be doing a post specifically on Chairman Mao soon.

Wikipedia was a source for this article.

John Lennon Home

Jan 19/12

Bruce Jenner

Bruce Jenner is a sports icon, but I think more to people my age and older. I recall his name being mentioned in the late seventies and early 80s. Then he dropped from my radar. However, looking in Wikipedia, I realized he's been busy.

Jenner went to Sleepy Hollow High School in New York. He played football in college, but apparently a knee injury stopped him. That's when he switched to the decathlon. (I guess the decathlon is easier on knees than football - who knew?)

Of course, Bruce won the decathlon in Montreal in 1976, setting a world record. Post-olympics, he became an actor and businessman. He's been in the software business and currently is in the aircraft supplies business. He was even a race car driver in the 80s. Of course, he's probably best known today for his starring role on Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

I remember Bruce, from the late 70s and early 80s, as being like a college kid or a gym teacher. He seemed strongly connected with education - that's what I remember, anyway. He never struck me as having "star" presence. Neither, for that matter, did Wayne Gretzky (see my article here about Wayne.) Both were friendly and approachable. I think that's a lot of what sports is meant to be about.

Bruce Jenner Home

Jan 21/12

Tonight we're retreating a bit: one of my earliest TV favourites was one of my earliest drawings. He became much more famous later, but David Hasselhoff got my attention as Michael Knight in the great TV show Knight Rider (NBC: 1982-86).

To this day the show is one of a kind, so far as I know. It featured the charming, intelligent, talking car KITT, driven by Michael. Michael was the boss just because he was human; it was the recurrent situation where the computer was smarter but for some reason the human was in control. As Michael, David Hasselhoff was everything a young male star was supposed to be: tough, impetuous, good-looking, and untrusting of authority.

As a twelve-to-fifteen year old, I loved Knight Rider. On Friday nights it conveyed me to a dark world of adventure and intrigue. Thanks, Michael and KITT - and of course Glen A. Larson, the show's creator - for giving me that to look forward to every week for those few years.

Wikipedia was a source for this article.

pencil drawing of David Hasselhoff Home

Jan 22/12

Destination Truth

I love the TV show Destination Truth. On a typical episode, the crew is witnessed on two different quests (half an hour is spent highlighting each). The quarry is either a paranormal phenomenon such as ghosts, or else it's a cryptid such as sasquatch. Last time I watched, they went seeking the Almas - or wildman - of Siberia. What a great show!

Sometimes they do find evidence that can't be explained away. I've never seen them find conclusive proof of the anomaly they're seeking, but it doesn't matter. The fantastic geography they reveal on these quests (as with the haunted mining towns in the Atacama Desert or the Siberian wilderness of the Almas) - plus the spooky quarry - makes it worthwhile anyway. Not to mention, Josh Gates and the crew are highly engaging. With their light touch of humour - and a taste of true innocence in their spirit of discovery - you'll find there's no one better to spend an hour with.

Because of my odd schedule, I usually get Friday mornings off. My destination then is the couch - watching Destination Truth. Make it yours, if you can.

Sources: Wikipedia and Wikipedia.

pencil drawing of Josh Gates from Destination Truth Home