I wrote the other day at some length about the incredible link between dogs and humans. There are two things I want to say. The first is to publish in the body of my blog a comment from Lee, about dogs’ contribution to civilization:
I read somewhere that the domestication of the dog was the first step towards civilization. Dogs have played an integral part in helping man build civilization by aiding herders, farmers, and hunters, and by helping provide security. During the course of developing civilization, the role of dogs have expanded and also become more specialized.
I don’t know if this was theorized by someone just gaga over dogs (which I am myself, so I don’t blame them), and/or if it’s really true. But it sure sounds plausible to me!
But if it is true: think of the ramifications of a society that bans dogs. While it may not plunge man into pre-civilization darkness (hunting is no longer necessarily needed to provide protein in the Western diet, and ratters are no longer quite the necessity they once were for keeping food and grain stores safe from vermin), it still speaks volumes, as far as I am concerned.
The second thing isn’t really something I want to say. It’s something I want to show:
I just love this song, especially as Josh Groban sings it, and once a year I get to share that love with you:
I’m still working my way through my email backlog, but it’s worth the effort, because I’m finally wonderful things buried in there. Take this video, for example:
Every life has value . . . if we know where to look, and if the person hasn’t taken affirmative steps to erase his life’s value. Such an affirmative step might be, for example, gleefully beheading helpless men to score religious/political points. That’s a life that has announced it’s without value.
One of the good things about having a deeply unhappy mother is that it made me think about the things she does that lead to that chronic unhappiness. Objectively, her life is very, very bad (old, widowed, heart problems, chronic pain, limited mobility) and her life is very, very good (she’s reached a grand old age, she’s got loving children and grandchildren, she lives in one of the most beautiful places in the world, she’s getting state-of-the-art care for her heart and pain, she lives in an excellent skilled nursing facility).
Rather than seeing both sides of her life, or focusing on the good stuff, my Mom insists on seeing only the very, very bad stuff. There is no good. She’s terrified of dying, but it’s awful to be old. She never sees her children or grandchildren enough. Marin is nice, but it’s not Europe. Sure, they manage the worst of her pain, but she still has pain and it’s so terrible. The nurses at her skilled nursing facility are awful. And so it goes, on and on, focusing relentlessly on the bad things, and reducing the good things to bad.
I long ago made the conscious decision to go the other way. Or as I told her, if you can’t change your situation, change your attitude.
There are things in my life I wish I could change; indeed, I wish most desperately that I could change them. But mostly, I know that I’m singularly fortunate. I live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world; in one of the nicest neighborhoods ever imagined; in a spacious, comfortable home; with children and dogs who adore me (sometimes to the point of exhaustion). I have a sister who is my best friend; Don Quixote (another best friend) is just a phone call away; and I have innumerable acquaintances who make my life better. I write, work out, read, and generally get to do things I enjoy.
I think Dennis Prager would be proud of me:
It’s a talent show at Pitman High School in Modesto, California (the Central Valley). One skinny white guy got up and proved to everyone that the ghost of Michael Jackson is inhabiting his body. He’s lip syncing the words, but the moves are all Michael. Most impressive:
You can read more about Brett Nichols here.
Since I’m not an Oprah fan, I skipped that part of the video. Hearing her talk about the different prosthetics, though, and watching her and Derek dance was a delight:
I’ve gotten to the point at which I no longer see Amy Purdy’s prosthetic legs. Her dancing is so tight it’s amazing:
Clearly, I’m in a video mood today, as well as a dance mood. It therefore seemed entirely appropriate when this video appeared on my Facebook feed. Before you watch, you might want to know what you’re seeing:
The type of dance they are performing is called Shag. This phenomenon was found in the 1950s by Billy Jeffers and “Chicken” Hicks in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Shag clubs have sprung up from Baltimore to Miami totaling in over 100 clubs. ShagAtlanta, the club Charlie and Jackie belong to, was established in 1989 with the merger of two metropolitan Atlanta shag clubs, the North Atlanta Beach Club and the Atlanta Beach Club. Each year thousands of shaggers get together for the Shag Festival to celebrate Shag.
Yes, I continue to be impressed by Amy Purdy’s turn on Dancing With The Stars. What she is able to do despite having two prosthetic legs is a testament to so many things: modern prosthetics, Derek Hough’s superb choreography, Purdy’s innate physicality and, most of all, her will power and optimistic personality.
Maybe I’m overestimating the difficulty of doing a fast swing dance with two prosthetic legs, but all I can say is that, when I watch Amy Purdy, I am beyond impressed. She’s the one who caught meningitis when she was 19, lost both legs below the knee, and went on to become a champion paralympic snowboarder. Now, she’s trying to become a Dancing With The Stars champion.
I don’t know that Amy will win, because there are some better dancers on the show, but it’s not always clear on DWTS that dancing is what it takes to win. Last season, Amber Riley won, even thought she wasn’t the best dancer. She was good enough, but Corbin Bleu was an extraordinary dancer — but she won. Amber’s strength was facial expression and upper body movement. Purdy has all that . . . plus she can dance. (And it doesn’t hurt that she’s working with Derek Hough who is quite possibly the best choreographer working in America today.)