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  •  And the smiling zombielike (3+ / 0-)
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    Rebecca, metal prophet, Allogenes

    stepford mom look of the right wing christian wack jobs reflects another definition inversion.  Here's a Bletter (I like that word) which I wrote to The Nation responding to an article about the "self-help" bestseller The Secret:

    A few months ago, The NY Times Magazine printed an article about "happiness" including results from a study which attempted to get at a more nuanced definition of contentment. The study concluded, perhaps against intuition, that at the end of the day, people who described themselves as happy, optimistic (and were perceived by others to be so) were less happy than those describing themselves more cautiously.

    Seems that "happy" folk are less happy actually, because their "optimistic" expectations are so often unfulfilled. Whereas the realist, or even the pessimist, is, at the end of the day, less dissatisfied, not only because their cautious expectations were more easily fulfilled but because the perceived "disaster on the horizon" was never really as bad as they imagined.

    Chomsky has written about the unfortunate tendency to invert the definitions of "optimist" and "pessimist." Somehow we've managed to equate a "don't worry, be happy" attitude with optimism (actually cynical, at best) while the person who'll look directly at a problem, call it a problem and express a need to correct it (or else!) is considered the malcontent.

    Rather than pinning a fake $1,000,000,000 bill to the ceiling, perhaps we should all wake up staring at pictures of poverty in America. Sure, it'll ruin your morning, but if it prompts you to make (or try to make) a differnce during the day, then you might find yourself sleeping better at night.

    That's my "secret."

    "You can't be neutral on a moving train." - Howard Zinn

    by bigchin on Sun May 20, 2007 at 10:48:01 AM PDT

    •  That's pretty good. (2+ / 0-)
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      Rebecca, bigchin

      I'd suggest a fourfold distinction:

      1. thinking that things are bad and cannot be improved
      1. thinking that things are bad but can be improved
      1. thinking that things are OK and cannot be improved and
      1. thinking that things are OK but can be made even better.

      #1 is a recipe for suicidal depression. #2 is your basic left-activist attitude. #3 is the attitude most conducive to stand-pat conservatism. #4 can lead to pragmatic progressive Republicanism of the Teddy Roosevelt variety. #2 and #4 can actually work pretty well together much of the time, in spite of their difference.

      When civilizations clash, barbarism wins.

      by Allogenes on Sun May 20, 2007 at 01:40:54 PM PDT

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      •  great response (1+ / 0-)
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        Allogenes

        ἀλλογενὴς!

        You'll smile, perhaps, to know that my legal name is Χριστός which, although anglicized into Chris, strictly translates into "Christ."

        Other than having performed the role in JC Superstar I tried not to let it go to my head, heh...

        Anyway, you gnostics had it figured out before my namesake came along, huh?  Being Greek has it's advantages but being raised Greek Orthodox is not one of them.

        Thanks for the considered response.

        "You can't be neutral on a moving train." - Howard Zinn

        by bigchin on Sun May 20, 2007 at 02:20:03 PM PDT

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        •  Glad you liked it. (1+ / 0-)
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          bigchin

          Luckily my parents weren't that much into the Church; and growing up in NYC, I was able to expose myself to alternate belief systems early on.
          Do you live in or near a city with enough Greeks to put on a decent Independence Day parade? I love the way they have floats and signs mingling all the phases of our history, from Thermopyle and Aristotle through Mary and the Saints all the way down to the modern freedom fighters and scientists, as if they were one continuum with no sense of underlying tension.
          My baptismal name is Παναγιώτης, by the way.

          When civilizations clash, barbarism wins.

          by Allogenes on Sun May 20, 2007 at 02:39:49 PM PDT

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          •  Zito Hellas! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Allogenes

            I love so much about my ethnicity, and it's sad that, although I spoke a bit of Greek as a child, it's the language I'm least skilled in - and I'm a classical singer who's pretty close to fluent in the major European languages.  Katalaveno ala then milo poli.

            All the things you write about:

            I grew up south of Tarpon Springs and the Tampa Bay area had a rather large Greek contigent.  I was in St. Pete and we battled for ethnic supremacy with Tampa and Clearwater.  But Tarpon was the nexus... I even dove for the cross on Epiphany.

            Speaking of Thermopolae, my Dad's family (both parents) is pure Spartan.  Karyae, frome whence came the beautiful Karyatidi as models for the Acropolis.  My 2 sisters got all those genes.  My mom's Dad was born in Constantinople and settled near Thessaloniki... my Mom's mom was from Lesbos.

            I marched and sang about "O Yero Dimos" and "To Layiarni" and recited Greek poetry about Κλέφτες I barely understood  except that they "guerilla" warriors and that was cool and a bit scary.

            I can bake kolourakia and roast a leg of lamb.  I even developed a taste for Retsina, heh...

            And Costa Gavras' Z is still one of my favorites.

            Oh man, sorry... a little stream of consciousness goes a long way.

            Yiassou.

            "You can't be neutral on a moving train." - Howard Zinn

            by bigchin on Sun May 20, 2007 at 03:33:28 PM PDT

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            •  I can relate to much of that. (1+ / 0-)
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              bigchin

              I love so much about my ethnicity, and it's sad that, although I spoke a bit of Greek as a child, it's the language I'm least skilled in - and I'm a classical singer who's pretty close to fluent in the major European languages.  Katalaveno ala then milo poli.

              Moi aussi! (Except the singing part.) My parents actually seemed to enjoy having Greek as a secret language they could use to talk over my head. So I learned to understand all the things I wasn't supposed to...

              Speaking of Thermopolae, my Dad's family (both parents) is pure Spartan.

              All my ancestors that I know of lived in a small region in the mountains to the right of the road from Sparta to Githio, if you turn off and head up over the ridge towards Kalamata. The heartland of the Κλέφτες, basically bandits who acquired a patriotic image because the only people rich enough for them to plunder were the Turks.
              One bit of Greek my Dad did teach me was

              O xein angellein Lakedaimoniois hoti tede, keimetha tois keinon rhemasi peithomenoi.

              I don't cook, but I like to eat the stuff, and I did eventually acquire a taste for retsina. My favorite line from Z is where the General blurts out "Dreyfus était coupable!"
              Gosh this is fun.

              When civilizations clash, barbarism wins.

              by Allogenes on Sun May 20, 2007 at 04:08:52 PM PDT

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