Thursday, September 18, 2008
Well, courtesy of Hurricane Ike, I missed getting my hair cut by my regular stylist before leaving town and instead got a two-fer in the Culture Shock Department when I took care of that in Cambridge yesterday.
I needed a cut some time before 2:00 so I could make it to an evening event in Waltham. Found this place through a Google search of barber shop recommendations, after passing over the top result, which read like its own staff "reviewed" it. The shop is described as "funky" by one customer. Consistently good reviews. Call 'em, explaining my situation, and they fit me in, no problem.
I've been using a stylist (rather than a barber) for a little over a year now. She won my loyalty by devising a new hair style for me that solved all the problems that normal thinning had been causing for some time with my old style, while updating it, making it far easier to maintain, and yet not radically altering the basic look. Ingenious. If a stylist can be an artist, then she certainly is one. She can work magic with any head of hair.
Nobody cuts hair like she can, but I did wonder how well I'd be able to convey what she did to this new guy. I've heard her describe what she does to the sides as a "fade". I don't know whether white barbers use the term, but yesterday makes me suspect that the answer is, "No." Still, I was satisfied overall with the final result.
So I navigated the business end of things well enough, but was too stunned by the conversation in the shop to miss the salon as much I expected to. Some kind of high-falutin' far-left news/talk radio was going on in the background. (Bonus: Until yesterday, I had never heard a radio ad for Matlab!) The other patron was talking about how his normally apolitical and "somewhat conservative" wife was livid about Sarah Palin and getting ready to donate huge amounts of cash to the Obama campaign. The barbers were on the same page as this guy, who was going on about "the lies" of the McCain campaign.
In Texas, such a conversation would be unthinkable among such "men on the street". Ordinary people there may lean a little to the left, but these people were so far out there, I am not sure how I could have even begun to engage them in a political conversation. Some time in a blue state will definitely be good intellectual practice for me. I hope.
The second wave of the culture shock came later, on the subway back. My barber had applied some kind of styling goop to the top of my head. In the shop, I got a strong whiff of mint. "Interesting," I thought with some indifference. I normally avoid using fragrances, but I was heading straight home to wash my hair anyway.
But I started sensing that there was some odd undertone to the scent of the goop that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Mint and .... What?!? At some point on the Red Line, the answer hit me: It was patchouli! Where I come from, only hippies use patchouli!
This place is nuts!
Via HBL is an instructive look at what should be the end of the "controversy" surrounding the conviction of the Rosenbergs for espionage. What I found most interesting about it was how much the Left did to cover for them. Even I was stunned.
To this day, this received wisdom [that the Rosenbergs were persecuted merely for being communists] permeates our educational system. A recent study by historian Larry Schweikart of the University of Dayton has found that very few college history textbooks say simply that the Rosenbergs were guilty; according to Schweikart, most either state that the couple were innocent or that the trial was "controversial," or they "excuse what [the Rosenbergs] did by saying, 'It wasn't that bad. What they provided wasn't important.' "Being curious about how bloggers would react to this, I did a cursory blog search and found a ton of conservative commentary and little left-wing commentary. Many conservatives seemed of the mind that now, finally, the Left would "have to" admit they were wrong about the Rosenbergs.
This is wrong, of course. Men have a capacity for evasion of facts that would be unlimited but for natural selection. Amid the deafening silence are whispers that the whole thing is unimportant because the messenger, Ronald Radosh, holds a grudge and, besides, the events of the case happened so long ago. And, oh yeah, the LA Times marks the piece as "opinion".
Context and Lessons
Curious awhile back about an aspect of the job hunt that was causing me to wonder whether I was doing something gravely wrong (and worse, completely oblivious to), I stumbled upon an interesting pair of articles. The first half of "Job Search Pet Peeves" was of commiserative value, but a blog entry by a corporate recruiter offers an interesting explanation that at least makes sense of many of the items on that list -- and what not to do about a common job hunting situation.
If you find yourself in perpetual limbo about an interesting position, take a look at those articles -- and then keep on hunting. The more options you have, the less any one of them matters, and the less it will bother you for it to remain unresolved or go to someone else.
With that, I don my hunting gear and head out the door!