The Real Deal

Or a reasonable facsimile thereof

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What does it mean to be authentic? We use the term authentic in many contexts to refer to people, places or things. How can they all be authentic? If one of us feels that a person, place or thing is authentic, does it follow that all of us agree on that authenticity?

The sense of authentic most closely related to its Greek origin is the sense of genuineness, the idea that the source or origin of something is indisputable. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” is an authentic da Vinci painting, since the provenance can be used to indisputably trace it to the time of its creation. We should all agree that no one can question the authenticity.

The origins of the painting “Salvator Mundi,” a Renaissance-era depiction of Jesus Christ attributed to da Vinci, are far more disputable. The historical record of the painting, commissioned by the French king Louis XII, is a matter of record. But the painting disappeared from history in the late 1700’s. It did not reappear until 1958 when the “rediscovered” masterpiece was deemed a fake and sold for a mere $60.

Later acquired by a group of art dealers, it was restored, academically authenticated, and sold to a Russian businessman for $127.5 million. Is the Mona Lisa more authentic than Salvator Mundi? Is it possible to be less genuine and still be considered genuine? Does that mean authentic is subjective?

Another sense of authenticity is something that is created or performed in a traditional fashion, or that is a faithful rendition of an original. This almost seems to be the opposite of the original Greek meaning of authentic, since this meaning implies that the thing that is authentic is not in fact genuine.

Authentic Tuscan cuisine in Chicago is certainly not genuine, in the sense of food cooked by an Italian person in the Tuscan region of Italy. But because the ingredients or methods employed in preparing the cuisine closely follow those in Tuscany we consider it authentic. But unless you have had food prepared by a Tuscan in Tuscany, how can you tell if the Tuscan cuisine in Chicago is authentic?

And what of an authentic life? This sense of authentic, denoting an emotionally suitable, purposeful, significant existence, comes to us from existential philosophy. It’s when our actions and words stem from our values and beliefs. It’s being who we are, and not who we or others think we should be.

But this seems at odds with how humans develop. As young children, we develop our beliefs, values, and personas through imitation of those around us. And we tend to internalize and repeat those imitations that bring praise from the important people in our lives. Therefore, can any existence be authentic? I would argue that few of us would agree that we aren’t authentic in this sense, but are we really?

It seems to me that authenticity, as beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Spring 2018 Abducted in Upper Midwest

Season’s disappearance causes grave concerns

U.S. authorities in the upper Midwest revealed today that Spring 2018 was recently abducted by the months December, January, and February. Residents in several Midwestern states are advised to be on the lookout for continued cold weather and to refrain from storing cold-weather clothing and planting spring annuals until further notice.

Spring generally follows winter in the upper Midwest, with daytime high temperatures routinely in the upper 40º F (4º C) to lower 60º F (16º C) range during late March and early April. Snowfall during this time, although not nonexistent, is isolated and relatively rare.

Officials conclude that Spring 2018 was kidnapped due to the extremely long stretch of sub 32º F weather and repeated snowstorms present in the area during March and April. Officials also speculate that December, January, and February are armed with continued cold and snow, and are dangerous to young plants, tree buds, and mental health.

“I just don’t know what I’m going to do!” said Summer 2018, when asked for comment on the situation. “I guess I’ll just have to wait until we find Spring.”

Residents are encouraged to contact local meteorologists with any information they may have regarding this situation

Throwback Thursday – April 5, 2018

All the content with half the work!

Greetings to all my Esteemed Reader(s). It’s rudyblues here, back with another edition of  Throwback Thursday! That time of the week when we meander most merrily down Memory Lane to meet a morsel from the mists of time.

ThrowbackThursdayAs some of you know (unwillingly, perhaps), Throwback Thursday is a recurring feature here at Rudy’s Ruminations. The intent is to reacquaint my gentle reader(s) with some of my lesser known earlier work. That and I’m looking for ways to keep slacking off.

Here’s how this Throwback Thursday thing works. I take this nifty boilerplate post I’ve created, add the date, add a short paragraph extolling the virtues of the previously unrecognized gem you have the opportunity to read, tack a previous post onto the end, et voila! Throwback Thursday! You get the Throwback Thursday post in your reader stream, scroll down to the previous post, and enjoy the (not so) great literary stylings of rudyblues. I get views, maybe clicks, and possibly visits. You get . . .  well, I’m not exactly clear on what you get, I was hoping to come up with something more for you, perhaps later. So here we go.


This was originally posted in December of 2015. It was an attempt at a description of a place, trying to let the reader feel what I felt when thought of the place. I think it may have been in one of the blogging classes from WordPress U. I hope you like it.


Grandma’s House – December 14, 2015

Harper's_New_Monthly_Magazine_Volume_104_December_1901_to_May_1902_(1902)_(14781045774)Grandma’s house was tiny when I returned to see it, all those years later. She moved there after Grandpa passed, when I was young, perhaps three or four. They say the old place was just too big for her to handle. As a child, I thought Grandma’s house was enormous and wonderful. I like the childhood memories best.

It was a block off the town square, on a quiet tar-and-chip street with a pronounced crown. Between the street and the cracked, uneven public sidewalk was a deep drainage ditch, deeper than I was tall. You could sit at the bottom, in the closely mown grass, lose sight of the world around you, and watch the clouds drift, puffy balls.

A massive spruce tree covered the front of the house. The boughs were allowed to grow naturally, sweeping down gracefully as if in a deep bow, touching the ground all around. The house hid behind the boughs, the ends peeking out. An alley ran along the right side of the house, two cindered ruts through close-cropped clover. Running parallel to the alley were two more cindered ruts, ending just before the house, parking for guests.

A narrow sidewalk ran from its intersection with the front sidewalk towards the house, beside the second set of cindered ruts. As it reached the house, the little sidewalk turned left and disappeared into the boughs, seemingly swallowed by the big spruce. But an equally narrow, carefully manicured break in the lower boughs, just tall enough for a human, made a covered arch for the sidewalk to wind through to the front door.

The arch-shaped break in the boughs opened up the interior of the tree, the space between the trunk and where the tips of the boughs touched the earth. It was like a separate room, dark, cool, fragrant from the pine needle floor and the sticky sap oozing from the boughs. Grandma kept gardening tools in a small shed that fit under the boughs, hidden from the world. Small children hid there as well.

The house was brick, covered in deep, dark green ivy. If the house had a color, nature had long ago replaced it with her own. The ivy seemed deep enough to swallow me, my arms too short to touch the brick through the thickest part. The ivy gave the house a soft and shaggy appearance, as if it had grown, rather than being built.

At the back of the house, at right angles to the little alley, was an aluminum carport where Grandma would park her 1963 Rambler American. Just off the carport, under a small but shady tree, was a glider swing, the kind made for two people, a fixed frame with the seat and arms and back suspended by heavy springs from the frame. And, as the heat of a summer day spent running and jumping and howling cooled, a small child was soothed by the embrace of Grandma in her apron and the rhythmic creak of the glider as it swung, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

I Read the News Today. Oh Boy!

News that caught my eye April 4, 2018

Have you read the news lately? Wow! These are a few of the headlines that interested me this morning.

From our “Parsing Words” bureau:

Mueller told Trump’s attorneys the president remains under investigation but is not currently a criminal target

by Carol D. Loennig and Robert Costa – Washington Post – April 3, 2018

OK, so you’re not a target of the investigation, but you’re still a subject of the investigation. This is better how? From the analysis, this seems like an inconsequential distinction. The only reason you’re not a target is that you’re still under investigation? You’re not a target because the investigation you’re the subject of hasn’t gathered enough evidence yet to make you a target? When does a subject become a target? Can a target become a subject? Seems pretty much the same to me. But go ahead and celebrate if you want. While you still can. And he’s the POTUS.

More from our “You Thought You Had a Bad Day” bureau:

Dead man balking: Court rejects Romanian man’s claim that he is, in fact, alive

by Associated Press – March 16, 2018

Wow! I thought my divorce was messy. At least my ex-wife didn’t have me declared legally dead. When this guy’s wife said “You’re dead to me” she really followed through.

From our “Good Author, Good Person” bureau:

Woman’s Kind Act For Elderly Stranger Shows You Should Never Think Twice About Helping Others

by Natasha Hinde – Huffpost UK – April 4, 2018

I don’t know about you, but after reading this I’m going out and buying a Celeste Ng book. I don’t care if I like it or not. I just want to make sure she can keep helping people in need! I’ve always said that you should help everyone you can because you never know when you might need help yourself.

I am definitely (maybe) gonna stop reading the news!

 

WARNING! Do Not Heed This Warning!

Question authority, it may not know the answer

Warnings surround us in this modern life. We should follow many of them without question. Most of these unquestionable warnings are made through the sound judgment of trained professionals assessing indisputable facts.

For instance, the warning against consumption of alcohol during pregnancy due to the statistical likelihood of fetal alcohol syndrome is an unquestionable warning. It’s based on indisputable scientific fact. You may be the one-in-a-million whose developing child doesn’t succumb, but the warning is still unquestionable.

Another is the warning against operating heavy machinery while taking certain medications. We know as a fact how these medications affect the central nervous system.  You may think that your metabolism or your operating skills will save you from any bad outcome. But this warning is still unquestionable.

The warning to stay away from the third rail of the subway is also unquestionable. As is the warning to cook that piece of raw chicken thoroughly. These warnings may seem more anecdotal, but the scientific facts behind them still make them unquestionable.

But there are other warnings that surround us in this modern life that we would do well to question. Most of these warnings are made through the flawed judgment of mere conjecture by pseudoscientists. And many of these warnings come to us through our social media and online sources. Your FaceBook or Twitter feed needs questioning.

One that springs to mind quickly is the warning about vaccines and autism. The science behind vaccines and the efficacy of vaccination is indisputable. But in 2008 the medical journal Lancet published an article, later retracted, about a flawed study that purported to find a link between vaccination and autism, a mere conjecture that internet pseudoscientists judged as indisputable fact. Vaccination rates plummeted as the pseudoscience spread through social media and the internet. Naturally, rates of childhood diseases once relegated to the dustbin of history went up commensurately. This is a warning that should have been questioned.

Another such warning that comes to mind is the purported link between Wi-Fi and cancer. Your smartphone is giving you cancer. Oddly, there is a grain of truth in this. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiation from Wi-Fi devices as a Class 2B carcinogen, right up there with cancer factories like styrofoam, aloe vera, coffee, and your Aunt Sally’s pickled cucumbers. I think life, in general, is also in this classification. The warning that Wi-Fi causes cancer should be questioned.

So what should you do when we’re confronted with warnings from people on your FaceBook feed, or when that Twitter god you follow tweets some dire warning about some heretofore unknown danger? Well, you could do what I do. Think. Read. And most importantly of all: Do Not Heed This Warning!

Oh, but you should heed my warning, to never heed those questionable warnings. That just makes sense.

Throwback Thursday – March 29, 2018

All the content with half the work!

Greetings to all my Esteemed Reader(s). It’s rudyblues here, back with another edition of  Throwback Thursday! That time of the week when we meander most merrily down Memory Lane to meet a morsel from the mists of time.

ThrowbackThursdayAs some of you know (unwillingly, perhaps), Throwback Thursday is a recurring feature here at Rudy’s Ruminations. The intent is to reacquaint my gentle reader(s) with some of my lesser known earlier work. That and I’m looking for ways to keep slacking off.

Here’s how this Throwback Thursday thing works. I take this nifty boilerplate post I’ve created, add the date, add a short paragraph extolling the virtues of the previously unrecognized gem you have the opportunity to read, tack a previous post onto the end, et voila! Throwback Thursday! You get the Throwback Thursday post in your reader stream, scroll down to the previous post, and enjoy the (not so) great literary stylings of rudyblues. I get views, maybe clicks, and possibly visits. You get . . .  well, I’m not exactly clear on what you get, I was hoping to come up with something more for you, perhaps later. So here we go.

Here’s a second look at a rant. Just a rant. Sorry. Just can’t help it. It’s a rant. Originally posted January of 2016. I hope you enjoy it.


This is in response to the Daily Post prompt “Keeping up with the Jones’”, where they ask me to “Tell us about the one luxury item you wish you could afford, in as much detail as you can. Paint a picture for us.” Right. I’ll paint a damn picture.

Well. To borrow a phrase, “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” It’s not the nice things that I’m burying. Nice things are, well, nice. It’s what drives the whole “keeping up” thing that I’m here to bury. And it’s the cause of a lot of heartache and frustration.


[begin rant]

Ours has become such a consumer-oriented society that we rarely consider it any longer. It seems that so many of us must have the biggest house, and the biggest car, and the latest I-phone, and the hottest designer bags, and the Air Jordan sneakers, and the list goes on and on and on. And it’s never enough!

There are many reasons for this, including human nature, which we can recognize and control, popular culture, which we should recognize and control but don’t, and advertising, which is diabolical and ought to be outlawed entirely (apologies to any advert execs out there). Let’s consider each one of these a bit.

Human nature. Ah, that fickle fiend, human nature. Humans are one of the only primate species to display the emotion of envy (those who are anthropomorphically inclined interpret some behaviors exhibited by the great apes as envy). The word envy is derived from the Latin word invidia.

In Latin, invidia is used in many contexts, with various meanings. The most common use of invidia in an emotional context is for the sense of injustice and pain felt when encountering undeserved wealth, power, prestige or authority exercised without shame. The emphasis, in my book, is on the “without shame.” It’s how you feel when those who “got it” flaunt it openly and without guilt.

This human trait was recognized long, long ago, so long ago that it’s included in the fundamental teachings of all three of the Abrahamic religions.  I suspect it’s probably in the teachings of every “religion”, except the worship of the filthy lucre, though I haven’t studied them all. Envy is one of the “Seven Deadly Sins” in the Christian belief. It still doesn’t stop us.

The other side of envy is pride. Not pride in the sense of “I’m proud of you for winning the spelling bee” or “He took great pride in keeping his house tidy”. This pride is akin to the Latin superbia or the Greek hubris. It is first and foremost on many lists of the Seven Deadly Sins and is thought to be the most serious and the source of many of the other sins. Think conceit. Dante defined this kind pride as a love of self that is “perverted to hatred and contempt for others.”

If you flaunt it, if you’ve ever thought or uttered the words “those people”, you’ve exhibited this kind of pride. Shame on you. If it wasn’t for you, there would be no envy. There was a time in the United States, or at least in the parts I hail from when flaunting it was considered in poor taste. Think about Warren Buffet. He lives in the same modest house he started out in. That’s how it used to be. Not so much now.

And then there’s greed. How much more money do you need, Sheldon Adelson?  You couldn’t possibly spend all your money in what’s left of your life, even if you paid a boatload of accounts to find ways to spend it. And it’s never enough!

Let’s talk about popular culture. When we worship pop culture icons we force pride upon them to justify our envy! And when they refuse to display the pride we force upon them then we envy their non-pride! I would not want to be a pop culture icon today. It’s no wonder child stars often end up as they do. They haven’t been given the tools to deal with pride or envy, and then they’re thrust onto a pedestal and worshiped.

The same can probably be said for many of the children of the “helicopter” parents, who make sure that their children have no balance between self-worth and the worth of others. This is perhaps the most egregious child-rearing sin of all. I’m reminded of the punk in Texas who argued “affluenza”. What? We had to invent a disease to describe your sinful pride? And it’s never enough!

And don’t even get me started on advertising. Using psychological subterfuge to prey upon someone’s self-image to sell a product is wrong. Just wrong. I got nothing more to say on this.

And it’s never enough!

[end rant]

Just Another Day in Paradise

Back on the chain gang

It was my anniversary today. No, not my blog anniversary. My anniversary at work. I’ve been with the Soul-Sucking Mega-Corporation, Inc. for 12 years now. I didn’t realize it had been that long. It seemed much longer.

When I got to the office this morning there was an email from the receptionist. It was sent to everybody in our little sphere of the organization. No sense bothering corporate, they wouldn’t know me from Adam. It said I started working there 12 years ago today. Hmm, news to me.

This anniversary email thing is a new bit. It came in with the last reorganization. When I started you would get some actual verbal recognition from an officer of the company at a quarterly employee meeting. Now you get an email. This was the first work anniversary that I remember since the new email anniversary recognition scheme was enacted.

Apparently, the drill is for everyone to forward the anniversary email to the person who is being recognized so that their inbox overflows with emails the have the same subject line, each with a little impersonal message that needs answering. There was the barrage of forwards to me, some from people I work with and know well, some from people I don’t know and have never seen, except in those little Lync avatars. The corporate level avatars look like professional glamour shots. Mine looks like a mug shot. I spent the first hour this morning digging out.

In my 12 years with Soul-Sucking Mega-Corporation, Inc. there has been three reorganizations. You can read about one here. We’re about to embark on the 4th, or so it seems. The Head Mahout just announced he’s not going to reenlist after his contract expires. This announcement should make the business press happy, so the stock price should bounce up, and he can cash out his stock options on the upside and float happily away on his golden parachute.

I, on the other hand, will dig in for my next 12 years. That should come sometime around the 8th reorganization, give or take. That’s two quartets of reorganizations. I guess that’s actually an octet, right? Woohoo!