Tag: Pakistan

Culture

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In the present-day world there are few people who reject the phenomenon of globalization. The world is becoming more and more global in the sense that people of various cultures start to communicate more freely. Furthermore there are means to communicate thoughts and ideas across cultures such as television, the internet and so on. Even though it is so common to believe that knowledge, experience, science are capable of transcending all cultural differences, many people lessen the importance of those barriers and oftentimes disregarding their existence.

All cultures have a set of beliefs that institute the code of values ​​and moral laws for that particular culture. In Asia for example people were exposed to certain social phenomena and inevitably adopted certain beliefs that now determine their behavior as a separate culture. In other countries people share different beliefs and values ​​due to a variety of factors. Religion is one of the most important factors that shape the society in terms of its cultural beliefs and traditions. Another important component is history that can tell us about the events of the past that might have had some influence on the further development of people in that particular country.

Cultural differences present a very interesting social phenomenon to study and understand. There are cultures that share very similar values ​​and traditions and there are cultures that have very different beliefs. In the confines of this paper, I will focus my attention on the differences between Chinese and American cultures that in my opinion present very good examples for this study. There are myriad differences in all aspects of social activity and there are probably more differences than similarities in these two cultures.

To study a particular culture is to actually study the people and their behavior from a sociological perspective. It is very important to construct a working definition of a culture. Culture is a set of social norms, traditions, beliefs and values ​​shared by a large group of people. Individuals who belong to that group can be considered a culture. By the same token, they can be called a society because at this point there is not much difference between the two notions. A society is literally a group of people that share that particular set of beliefs, values ​​and so on, whereas the word culture has slightly different connotations. A particular culture may as well be share by more than one nation whereas the word society is usually applicable to the nation that inhabits a particular country. There are slight differences between these two terms but most sociologists and anthropologists use them interchangeably.

In other words, a culture is a set of beliefs or a particular ideology that a society shares. It is very interesting to understand how people develop a culture because it seems to be a purely social phenomenon developed by a group of people and then spread among others individuals who somehow relate to that particular group.

As an example, communist countries have very different cultures. They vividly illustrate how a group of people can influence a culture. China was not always a communist country. Long before communists came to power the population of the country shared a different ideology. The communist government directly influenced the country's culture by the means of propaganda, the education system, television etc. Subsequently, the next generation is going to absorb the culture modified by communism whereas the previous generation is not so likely to accept it. However, even though communists altered people's views and beliefs they could not completely eradicate most of the traditions shared by the society (Henry Rosemont, 1981).

There are many numerous differences between human beings and animals. Even though humans as well as animals are very complex creatures that have very complicated biological and chemical processes going on in their bodies, humans are more complex creatures because there is a great deal of social interaction that implies relationships, mental processes, human behavior, etc . Social sciences are several related fields that basically study the interaction among human beings. This field is very broad because the social activities that human beings involve in are so numerous that it would be hard to expound all the phenomena that can not be explained by natural sciences in one discipline.

The social sciences include anthropology, sociology, political science, economics, law, psychology, criminology and social psychology. All these sciences are very important because they make an attempt to explain why people act that way they do, why they interact with others, and why they form a global society. Actually these disciplines cover a lot more social issues that directly relate to the behavior of people. The difference between the social sciences and the natural sciences lies in the fact that the natural sciences like physics, mathematics, biology and chemistry study the processes and objects that can be physically measures in terms of weight, speed, or other measurements. Social sciences deal with more subtle social processes and phenomena that can not be measured exactly but can only be pondered and theorized about (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Anthropology is a very diverse and broad discipline that primarily deals with questions like what people think, what they do, why they interact with each other, and how they evolved over the course of time. Mostly, anthropologists deal with very basic questions but it is the simplicity that gives way to more complex phenomena. This discipline also studies how people can adopt to various cultural environments and how the cultures were formed. Ultimately, the purpose of this science is to understand the human life. Anthropology contains three main components that are employed by scientists to unravel the mysteries of the human race. They are society, culture, and evolution. Society and culture are the terms that are often confused and used interchangeably.

The basic definition of society can be found in biology where a herd of horses for example is referred to as society. However, society in the anthropological sense is used in reference to humans who can form a society of several billions of people who share the same culture. Culture, on the other hand, is a set of rules, customs, traditions that people live in accordance with. A society that shares the same set of social rules that can be called a culture. Therefore, there is very subtle difference between the two terms and most of the time they can be used interchangeably due to the great deal of similarity. There are several elements that institute a culture.

First of all, people who form a culture speak the same language, and employ other means of communicating complex ideas such as art, literature, cinema, etc. Thus a culture can be passed from generation to generation. Evolution is a radically different approach and it aims at the evolution of human beings over time. There are numerous theories that try to examine the process of evolution but most of them are questionable. As a separate discipline of anthropology consists of several fields that include cultural anthropology that studies the elements that institute a culture and what role cultures play in the world today; linguistic anthropology that focuses on the role of the language in the society; archaeology that studies the ancient societies, the cultures of the past and the effect they have on the present-day world; and physical anthropology that focuses on the evolution of human beings in terms of biological and physiological aspects.

Physical anthropology is similar to archaeology in the sense that both study the evolution. However, physical anthropology focuses on the physical changes that presumably occurred in the human bodies over time whereas archeology emphasizes the cultural aspects of evolution. As you can see, anthropology is a very broad field and it is closely related to some other social disciplines (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Another very important component that I believe influences the formation of a particular culture is mythology that relates to the people of that culture. Mythology is essentially a set of myths that originated in a culture and were spread around by people. Thereafter, this set of myths became traditions and cultural beliefs that are share by the people of that culture. A myth can be classified as a narrative or a tale that has been passed from one generation to another by word of mouth. This process of retelling keeps going up to the point when it is hard to distinguish between a tale and a true story.

Myths usually get accepted by the culture as a custom or a tradition and when this happens it is hard to tell a myth from reality. Most of the time, people involuntarily believe that the myths that happened to originate a long time ago set the foundation of their culture (E. Evans, 1983). Myths are universal, occurring in almost all cultures. They typically date from a time before the introduction of writing, when they were passed orally from one generation to the next. Myths deal with basic questions about the nature of the world and human experience, and because of their all-encompassing nature, myths can illuminate many aspects of a culture. Although it is difficult to draw rigid distinctions among various types of traditional tales, people who study mythology find it useful to categorize them.

The three most common types of tales are sagas, legends, and folktales. When a tale is based on a great historical (or presumably historical) event, it is generally known as a saga. Despite a saga's basis in very distant historical events, its dramatic structure and characters are the product of storytellers' imaginations. A legend is a fictional story associated with a historical person or place. Legends often provides examples of the virtues of honored figures in the history of a group or nation. The traditional American story about young George Washington and the cherry tree – in which he could not lie about chopping it down – is best described as a legend, because George Washington is a historical figure but the story about the cherry tree is recognized today as fictional. Folktales, a third variety of traditional tale, are usually simple narratives of adventure built around elements of character and plot – for example, the young man who slays a monster and wins the hand of a princess. Folktales may contain a moral or observation about life, but their chief purpose is entertainment (E. Evans, 1983).

Myths may include features of sagas, legends, and folktales. What makes one of these tales a myth is its serious purpose and its importance to the culture. Experts typically define a myth as a story that has complying drama and deals with basic elements and assumptions of a culture. Myths explain, for example, how the world began; how humans and animals came into being; how certain customs, gestures, or forms of human activity originated; and how the divine and human worlds interact. Many myths take place at a time before the world as human beings know it came into being. Because myth-making often involves gods, other supernatural creatures, and processes beyond human understanding, some scholars have viewed it as a dimension of religion. However, many myths address topics that are not typically considered religious – for example, why features of the landscape take a certain shape (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2002, Deluxe Edition).

The key character of Chinese mythology is monkey. He is a god-hero who is the cornerstone of ancient China's mythology (Henry Rosemont, 1981). Based on what is said in the legends, monkey was born from a stone egg that was created from a rock as old as time and included the essence of the Earth and Heaven. Monkey was endowed with a magical staff that could shrink or grow to any size. Also this hero had other magical abilities. For example there is a famous picture in Chinese mythology where the monkey creates an army out of his fur blowing it into the air.

Subsequently, this clever creature creates a monkey warrior out of every single hair. Monkey defied the supreme god of Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor, with his own claim as high god. To appease the mischievous Monkey, the Jade Emperor proclaimed him King of Heaven, concealing the fact that he had only made him a heavenly stable keeper. Monkey discovered this deception and, enraged, returned to Earth to wreak havoc. The Jade Emperor entreated Buddha for help. Buddha dropped a mountain on Monkey, and Monkey remained benefit it for 500 years. On his journey from China to India to retrieve Buddhist scriptures, the monk Tripitaka unearthed Monkey, who became tripitaka's escort and disciple. With two other companions, Piggy and Sandy, both exempts of the Heavenly Court reborn in monstrous bodies, Monkey accompanied the monk for 14 years, covering nine kingdoms and encountering numerous fantastic adventures. After introducing the scriptures Tripitaka had obtained in India to the Chinese emperor in the imperial capital of Chang-an, the four travelers were borne up to heaven. Monkey, with his irrepressible spirit and countless magic tricks, is generally regarded as a personification of the nature of genius (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Culture is basically the patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn, create, and share. Culture identifies one human group from others. It also identifies humans from other animals. A people's culture includes their beliefs, rules of behavior, language, rituals, art, technology, styles of dress, ways of producing and cooking food, religion, and political and economic systems (E. Evans, 1983). Culture is the most important concept in anthropology – the study of all aspects of human life, past and present. Anthropologists commonly use the term culture to refer to a society or group in which many or all people live and think in the same ways.

Likewise, any group of people who share a common culture – and in particular, common rules of behavior and a basic form of social organization – constituents a society. Thus, the terms culture and society are somewhat interchangeable. However, while many animals live in societies, such as herds of elk or packs of wild dogs, only humans have culture. Culture developed together with the evolution of the human species, Homo sapiens, and is closely related to human biology. The ability of people to have culture comes in large part from their physical features: having big, complex brains; an upright post; free hands that can grasp and manipulate small objects; and a vocal tract that can produce and articulate a wide range of sounds (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2002 Deluxe Edition). These distinctively human physical features began to develop in African ancestors of humans more than four million years ago.

The earliest physical evidence of culture is crude stone tools produced in East Africa over two million years ago. People have culture primarily because they can communicate with and understand symbols. Symbols allow people to develop complex thoughts and to exchange those thoughts with others. Language and other forms of symbolic communication, such as art, enable people to create, explain, and record new ideas and information. Symbols allow people to develop complex thoughts and exchange those thoughts with others (E. Evans, 1983). A symbol has either an indirect connection or no connection at all with the object, idea, feeling, or behavior to which it reiterates.

For instance, most people in the United States find some meaning in the combination of the colors red, white, and blue. But those colors themselves have nothing to do with, for instance, the land that people call the United States, the concept of patriotism, or the US national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. To convey new ideas, people constantly invent new symbols, such as for mathematical formulas (E. Evans, 1983). In addition, people may use one symbol, such as a single word, to represent many different ideas, feelings, or values. Thus, symbols provide a flexible way for people to communicate even very complex thoughts with each other. For example, only through symbols can architects, engineers, and construction workers communicate the information necessary to construct a skyscraper or bridge. People have the capacity at birth to construct, understand, and communicate through symbols, primarily by using language.

Research has shown, for example, that infants have a basic structure of language – a sort of universal grammar – built into their minds. Infants are thus predisposed to learn the languages ​​spoken by the people around them. Language provides a means to store, process, and communicate amounts of information that vastly exceeds the capacities of nonhuman animals. For instance, chimpanzees, the closest genetic relatives of humans, use a few dozen calls and a variety of gestures to communicate in the wild. People have taught some chimps to communicate using American Sign language and picture-based languages, and some have developed vocabularies of a few hundred words. But an unabridged English dictionary may contain more than half-a-million vocabulary entries. Chimpanzees have also not clearly demonstrated the ability to use grammar, which is crucial for communicating complex thoughts. In addition, the human vocal tract, unlike that of chimpanzees and other animals, can create and articulate a wide enough variety of sounds to create millions of distinct words.

In fact, each human language uses only a fraction of the sounds humans can make. The human brain also contains areas dedicated to the production and interpretation of speech, which other animals lack. Thus, humans are predisposed in many ways to use symbolic communication. People are not born with culture; they have to learn it. For instance, people must learn to speak and understand a language and to abide by the rules of a society. In many societies, all people must learn to produce and prepare food and to construct shelters. In other societies, people must learn a skill to earn money, which they then use to provide for themselves. In all human societies, children learn culture from adults.

Anthropologists call this process enculturation, or cultural transmission. Enculturation is a long process. Just learning the intricacies of a human language, a major part of enculturation, takes many years. Families commonly protect and enculturate children in the households of their birth for 15 years or more (Encyclopedia Britannica). Only at this point can children leave and establish their own households. People also continue to learn through their lifetimes. Thus, most societies respect their elders, who have learned for an entire lifetime. Humans are not alone in their ability to learn behaviors, only in the amount and complexity of what they can learn.

For example, members of a group of chimpanzees may learn to use a unique source of food or to fashion some simple tools, behaviors that may distinguish them from other chimpanzee groups. But These unique ways of life are minor in comparison to the rich cultures that distinguish different human societies. Missing speech, chimps are very limited in what they can learn, communicate to others, and pass on from generation to generation.

People living together in a society share culture. For example, almost all people living in the United States share the English language, dress in similar styles, eat many of the same foods, and celebrate many of the same holidays. All the people of a society collectively create and maintain culture. Societies preserve culture for much longer than the life of any one person. They reserve it in the form of knowledge, such as scientific discoveries; objects, such as works of art; and traditions, such as the observation of holidays.

As it was pointed out mythology plays a vital role in the development of a culture. The tales and sagas that originated in a particular culture are adopted as beliefs and traditions that in turn form a cultural foundation that people adhere to. It is not only traditions that determine a cultural barrier that interferes with the mutual understanding among cultures. People in China were able to develop different traditions and customs partly because they inhabited a different geographical area and were not influenced by the American culture. There are things that can only be understood by people who live in a particular area. Furthermore when the representatives of a particular culture confront people from another culture there is a great deal of misunderstanding between them. Using the sociological terminology, it can be classified as a cultural clash. Such a cultural clash happens whenever people from two different cultures attempt to communicate an idea not taking into account the cultural differences that exist between them.

Bibliography
Chinese Language, Chinese Philosophy, and Truth. Journal of Asian Studies 44: 3 (May 1985), p. 491-519

Encyclopedia Britannica 2002 Deluxe Edition.

Edward Evans. Understanding and interpreting cultures. New York: Random House, 1983.

Henry Rosemont. Studies in Classical Chinese Thought. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1981.

Lisa A. Raphals. Sharing the Light: Representations of Women and Virtue in Early China. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1998.

Is Integrity Important In A Musician's Work?

Manorbier .... church of St James ..

The dictionary definition of integrity uses three words: wholeness, unity, and honesty. When talking about integrity, we are talking about being a whole person, an integrated person, with all our different parts working well and delivering the functions that they were designed to deliver. To be a musician of integrity one must include three crucible elements in their work life. A musician must: create a culture of trust, keep your word, have concern for the greater good, and be honest but modest.

To create a culture of trust, you develop a work environment that will not test the personal integrity of your students or your collections. I am privileged to have a studio of nearly twenty adult organ students with whom I share a culture of trust. Some of my students have played for churches for years and are studying to enhance their service playing skills while others are pursuing playing the organ as a new avocation. Together we have created a wonderfully trusting and supportive community where ideas and performances are shared freely and easily.

You keep your word and act with integrity to gain trust. If I tell my students we are going to have an opportunity to play the pipe pipe organs at Mt. Angel Abbey, it is not a whimsical idea. I know once such an opportunity is presented to my students, I will have to follow through. By working through the myriad of details necessary to make that performance and learning opportunity a reality, I continue to build trust with my enthusiasm group of students. As Henry Cloud states in his book, Integrity , "In the end trust is about the heart, and someone making an investment in you from his or her heart. Good teachers capture the other people's will, their true desire, through connecting with them first. "

You care about the greater good and make decisions that will benefit the entire organization. Caring about the greater good means providing community building opportunities such as Play-Ins, recitals, and music-sharing days for my students; working to choose, prepare, and share music that will strengthen worship for my church's congregation; presenting concerts that will advance the value of music making in society; and supporting the professionalism of my musical collections.

A musician of integrity must be honest but modest. You let your actions speak louder than words. I frequently talk about and write about the two "P" words-Practice and Performance. However, it is important that I do more than talk and write about this subject; I also practice, create and perform new programs hoping that my example will encourage my students to work towards their practice and performance goals.

Musicians must practice every day to maintain a high level of artistic talent. They also must practice implementing integrity every day in their musical lives.

"Oh Danny Boy Oh Danny Boy I Love You So," But Not in Southie and NOT in the St Patrick’s Day Parade

Laugharne Castle

Author’s program note. Have you ever been to South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade? It is at the best of times a pitiable thing, ramshackle, disorganized, still smelling of the mother load that Billy O’Sullivan barfed on Monseigneur Murray last year as he bent down to bless the laddie, age 38 and unemployed.

No one was particularly surprised, including the Monseigneur who always knew the O’Sullivans were a bad lot… but they are County Clare Irish, their father a reliable campaign worker (his record five votes in a single day), and (it’s important to inform you) didn’t tell the world what happened when the twins were apple-cheeked altar boys at St. Matt’s…

That’s a comfort to his eminence, although his lawyers told him to pony up $60,000 for each of them because he loved them not wisely but too well. Hallelujah. And, yes, they’ll be marching in the parade, wearing their new store-bought duds. They even chipped in for something for Billy since the ones he wore last year are encrusted with dull green puke and stink to high Heaven.

Ordinarily no one would mention it but, as I said, they’re from the County Clare O’Sullivans who have standards to maintain. They’ll be a gay sight to see, and their poor mother (who’s still paying for the bail money) will be so proud to hear them break into uneven song just for her…

She hopes it won’t be “I’ll take you home again, Kathleen/ Across the ocean wild and wide… The roses all have left your cheek/ I’ve watched them fade away and die”. (Thank God, she’s just got time for a concealing facial. Trixie is such a treasure. She’s always so good at removing the dead skin cells… at least most of them. Such a pity she’s cross-eyed and misses a patch or two. Still what a bargain at just $25… though she says her price will double if she ever gets her license. No fear of that. She’s 70 now if she’s a day.)

Such a serenade it will be. It’s sad most of the boys singing are missing their front teeth, a combination of hockey pucks gone astray and punches from the O’Malley’s. In truth they shouldn’t have called their cousin Fiona a whore, though if the truth be told… Still, the Christian way is to say nothing and hope that Father Pat can give her some good solid advice before this baby ends up in the Home for Little Wanderers like her last one. Who finally admitted paternity in that case anyway?

Oh, yes, now I remember. That would be Jimmy Hennessey, who set the record for most AWOL days in the USMC. It was said, but never proved, that he had girls in every port. He told me right on this very porch he always kept the lights out when he had visitors of the female persuasion so they couldn’t see all his tattoos and figure out where they stood in the pecking order.

The first one saying “Rosita” was the biggest and as he added the girlies he cut the size. I shouldn’t tell you where the most recent was engraved… he said he could only fess up if he had another brew or two… I gave him the bottles of course, not to see mind, but only out of courtesy. I looked… then I had to look away. It was D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G.He told me he’d be marching in the parade… then laughed and showed me his tattered underwear. “I’m charging 50 cents per view.” He would. (OMG how I love my neighborhood and all the good people within it… they make our parade the best ever and everywhere).

Old French Proverb, hence unknown in the Emerald Isle. The old guard obstructs, blocks, embarrasses, dies. But it never thinks and never surrenders. Theirs is the most foolish consistency of the littlest minds.

For over 20 years now the people of Southie have done everything they could to keep the wrong sort of people as far away from them and their civic endeavors as possible. They wanted a parade that showcased their adamant (Roman Catholic) family values, their local and vocal celebration and veneration of St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland, and the evacuation of the British fleet and army from Boston in 1776.

These disparate factors come together once every year to create a humdinger of an event… bigger and better every single year. And still pure as the driven snow. No perverts, if you catch my meaning. Of course my little signs have helped a lot, “No perverts need apply!” I’ve dished out at least 100 but only to my lace-curtained friends and neighbors. They cost good money after all.

Brother Thomas Dalton’s true colors.

This year the forces of Sodom and Gomorrah made a concerted attack on the parade. Since last year at this time they had gained a very significant supporter in his newly elected honor Mayor Martin Walsh. Walsh is as Irish as they get but he knows that perverts walk nowadays in every city’s parade but two, and he wants New York to be the last one standing, habit-ed in shame and prejudice. Thus, he made a major effort to get them a place and bury the problem.

For an instant, but only for an instant, his round-the-clock endeavors paid off. The parade organizers at The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, with their personal pit bull John J. “Wacko” Hurley in the vanguard, agreed to let gays and lesbians march, so long as they wore no identification, no badges, no tell-tale insignia. It was insulting, of course, discriminatory, and demeaning. No body liked this compromise which may have been the surest indicator that it was the best that could be achieved just now.

Unfortunately the bigot brigade, which never slept during these tumultuous negotiations, immediately sent in one of their dimmest bulbs, Bro’. Thomas Dalton, Principal of the Immaculate Heart of Mary school in Harvard, Massachusetts. He pulled the school’s marching band out of the parade saying he couldn’t allow his petted darlings within a country mile of anyone “condoning the homosexual lifestyle.” Thus, with a whiff of the Inquisition this uneducated educator made his unenlightened opinion known… and the agreement fell apart, disgust and finger- pointing from every side.

Was that completely unacceptable outcome absolutely necessary? Certainly not! As an internationally known management consultant, I offer a better way, a thinking-outside-the-box way, a way that will solve this pesky problem… with the extra advantage that it leaves Manhattan and its biased practices in the trash. Delicious.

Dr. Lant’s idea for solving this problem now.

We have all wasted enough ink on this situation. Let’s solve it now, people.

“Wacko” Hurley and company would prefer no homosexuals walking the parade route. But given enough mayoral arm twisting, they would probably re-accept the deal they originally offered and then withdrew.

Gay rights organizations understandably want total equality, absolutely no hint of condescension and moral disapproval. Political realities being what they are, they’ll have to hold their noses and take the original offer with as much grace as possible… always remembering that this grand presentation I’m here recommending ensures maximum worldwide publicity and an eye-opening response from the recalcitrant and mulish organizers.

Hurley says no badges or insignias or political statements of any kind. No problem. Thus, position a bevy of frilly drag queens at the front, two holding a big sign saying “Oh, Danny boy.”

Six examples of pulchritudinous beefcake should follow, dressed in green jock straps, broad green ribbons, and leprechaun hats with pointed ears. Nothing else except for “Erin Go Bragh” artfully engraved in bright green on the right buttock. These boys, tap dancing, will from time to time open like shamrocks at sunrise… only to reveal this scenario.

Billy O’Sullivan naked as the day he was born kneeling before a picture of Brad Pitt singing the ultimate Irish lyric…

“And I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow”/Oh, Danny boy… I love you so!” Given what Billy’s packin’, it’s easy to see why… and there won’t be a dry eye in the house, which is just as it should be.

Envoi.

“Danny Boy” is one of the most famous and affecting songs in the world. It is a ballad written by English songwriter Frederic Weatherly (1913). It is usually set to the Irish tune of the “Londonderry Air.” It was recorded in 1915 by the celebrated vocalist Ernestine Schumann-Heink who gave its simple words their soaring majesty. Go now to any search engine and find the version you prefer from so many notable alternatives.

Since its release people have argued about its meaning. Is it a parent singing for a child off to the Great War with its sickening casualty lists? Or is it about another leaving the profound beauty of Ireland, so easy to admire and break your heart? What matter? It is a song of love, however given, wherever needed. As such one man should indeed sing it to another whenever his love is ardent and true, whether he be straight, gay, or anything else.

Writing Without Rules

Cramond Island

How does that work when you have writer's block? Even famous authors can suffer from writer's block. It can be very frustrating when you have a deadline and have to get that essay or report in on time.

What causes writer's block? Think back to your time in English class in school. Your teacher wants you to write an essay about Shakespeare or your thoughts on a particular poem for your homework. This you find boring. As you sit at home with your copy book open on a blank page the clock ticks loudly in the background. It is not happening. There is no enjoyment in the task. Teacher has set certain criteria about what has to be included in the essay, how long the essay should be, specific very important points that need to be expanded on and of course your own opinion. The list is endless and monotonous. The deadline is tomorrow morning first thing.

The stress levels are fairly high now. Where has the fun gone? Many adults have memories from school similar to this one. Now when you sit down to prepare a report or article this memory from your school years is playing in the back of your mind. You may not be aware of it but if you are sitting in front of a blank screen or piece of paper then there is a traumatic memory in there somewhere from your school days.

So what can you do about writer's block? Give this exercise a go before you start. Hold a pen in your non-dominant hand. Hold the palm of your other hand in front of you and draw what you see without looking at the page. Keep your eyes focused on all the creases and undulations of the palm of your hand. This is not about the finished piece of artwork. This is about the process.

You activate the right side of your brain when you draw with your non-dominant hand. This part of your brain is responsible for your creativity. The left side of your brain is you logical and analytical side. This is the side where you can get thought up in all the detail – such as all the points the teacher wanted included in the essay, the length of the essay and all the other 'teachers' rules from you school days.

When you activate the right side of your brain you will release your creativity and the ideas will start to flow. It will be a lot easier to write. Forget all the rules which the English teacher set. The only rule here is there are no rules. Give it a go and have fun writing without rules.

Writers Learning to Learn

San Minato Al Monte - Florence

Software like Photoshop, Excel, and Scrivener are great, but they can also be intimidating. Have you ever paid for a program and never use it? Learning something new can be scary. Many programs have help files, but often that’s not enough. Reading something and learning it are two different things. There are three types of learning. They are audio, visual, and hands-on. In this article, I will use Scrivener as my example.

When considering this software, I looked at the Scrivener website and studied the overviews and features section. Impressed enough to make the purchase and read the written tutorial, I was quickly overwhelmed. Note, at this point, I was only looking at buttons and icons.

Next, I went to Facebook and found a group called Scrivener Users. I prefer to hear from those who use the software, as opposed to those trying to sell me something. One advantage was now I could ask questions. Many people kept referring to the book Scrivener for… by Gwen Hernandez, so I purchased that. The book was excellent. Occasionally, I would click on an icon to verify the features listed underneath.

Being a photographer for 40+ years, I relate to all things visual. Therefore, the next logical step was YouTube. Although they had dozens of tutorials most felt like a synopsis, a summary if you will.

I liked being able to see and hear what I was learning. But, I wanted to watch without being dependent on the internet. What I found was a website called udemy.com, which had several outstanding video tutorials. What I had missed to this point, was the hands-on approach. With the program now open, I found the pause button was my new best friend.

The class was reasonably priced and had excellent quality. It was also downloadable. With my slow internet speed, it did take a while (over 5 hours), but each of the 46 videos was downloaded to a folder on my desktop. Now, I could watch, practice, and hear the lessons all at the same time.

If you want to be a writer, you don’t just write when it’s convenient, you write every day. If you want to learn something new you don’t just read a manual and expect to know it all. You use different senses when you want to learn effectively, and you can also use a variety of resources.

Millions of writers write blogs and how-to books with the expectation you will comprehend the subject better. There are thousands of users on Facebook and other social media outlets, waiting to share information they have learned from experience. The key word being experience. You must jump right in and get your hands dirty. YouTube has videos on almost any subject you can imagine. You can find inexpensive courses online. In many cases, you can also find Pod Casts and audio CDs on your favorite subject.

The information age does not limit you to one medium. You’ve heard the phrase show don’t tell. This applies to learning as well as writing. Part of my learning process includes repetition. If I can listen or watch something multiple times, it tends to stay with me better. Some people can read something once and retain everything. I’m not one of those people. The more types of learning methods you employ, the better the odds you will retain the information. When getting your hands dirty doesn’t help and reading is not enough, try using more resources.

A Brief History of Rock and Pop Music

Fleet Street

You may be wondering when exactly did rock/pop music begin? There’s no clear answer to this. Some might say that it started with the advent of rock n roll with Bill Haley and the Comets in 1952. Others would say Elvis, although not the first but surely the original truly global superstar. Yet none of these were really the first. Rock n roll has its roots in blues which has its roots back to the 19th century with black immigrants trying to escape from their slave driven lives. Fast forward to the early 20th. century and some of the earliest recordings on 78 began to appear. Players from this time such as Bobby Jo and Robert Johnson helped to form the structure of early blues

Robert Johnson had recorded only thirty songs during his short life as he was prevented from achieving true fame while alive by being poisoned by a jealous husband. He died shortly before he was being sought to appear at the ‘Spirituals To Swing’ concert in 1938 by record producer John Hammond. As a result, his reputation only took off after Hammond released an album of his recordings for Columbia in the early sixties. Later blues exponents like Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton admitted borrowing heavily from these early stalwarts.

In the 50’s, artists took the basic blues style and used electric guitars, drums and double bass for the first time creating early rock n roll, later known as rockabilly. Stalwarts like Chuck Berry, Buddy Hollie and Jerry Lee Lewis were the most famous protagonists here. Later Elvis in the US and to a lesser extent, Cliff Richard (later leading the Shadows) in the UK brought rock n roll to a truly worldwide audience. This paved the way for the 60’s beat era which could be considered the true beginning of pop music as we know it today, certainly as far as bands were concerned.

In the 50’s and early 60’s, it was mostly lead solo artists with just a backing band. With the advent of the beat era, bands dominated with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys from the US taking the world by storm. Even so, The Beatles later admitted being heavily influenced by those earlier rock n roll and blues artists. They mostly played rock n roll and blues covers at their pre-fame Hamburg concerts. in the early 60’s. The Beatles however, were the first band to successfully blend classical music textures with rock n roll to form perfectly crafted pop songs. While bands like The Rolling Stones continued with the mainly rock n roll theme,

The Beatles took their finely crafted style further in the seminal album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ in 1967 by utilizing new studio techniques and instruments never used before. They used a new instrument called ‘the Melotron’ This was basically a keyboard which played looped tape recordings. of real instruments. The most famous sound from this was probably the flute used on the ‘Strawberry Fields’ single recorded at the same time but later dropped from the album. The Melotron though, was cumbersome and unreliable and had a rather grainy sound. Even so It was regarded as the forerunner of the electronic sampler, invented nearly 20 years later. Infinitely more flexible than the Melotron, the sampler helped build the framework for modern pop,dance and R&B music.

The Beatles ‘Sgt.. Pepper’ album with its groundbreaking recording techniques was preceded the year before by their ‘Revolver’ album. These LP’s helped popularize a new wave in music known as psychedelic or acid rock, named after the mind bending effects of LSD drugs. Pink Floyd also recorded their debut album ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ in the studio next door at the same time that The Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper. It was reported that Pink Floyd were a direct influence to The Beatles as a result. This new style incorporated new guitar effects like Fuzz, flanger anger and delays. These were used along side the earliest portable synthesizers such as the therein and mini Moog. invented by Bob Moog.

In America, the Beach boys responded with the ‘Pet sounds’ LP in 1966 and later that year released the first big psychedelic hit ‘Good Vibrations’. About this time, the band ‘Jefferson Airplane’ recorded their debut album which was also the first LP to come out of the new San Franciscan music scene. This got the record industry’s attention and they had two of the earliest psychedelic hits ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody to Love’ in 1967.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Jim Morrison joined with members of The Psychedelic Rangers and Rick and the Ravens to form ‘The Doors’ They were initially turned down by Columbia but were signed to Electra Records and released their self titled debut LP in 1967. The album included the 7 minute long hit single ‘Light my Fire’ one of the first to break the typical three minute pop and rock song barrier.

Back in Britain, radio broadcasting was very limited because the BBC were the only organization allowed to broadcast on the mainland and had just two pop music shows The Saturday club and Easy Beat Radio Luxembourg partially filled the gap but it was left to pirate radio, broadcast from ships out at sea with DJ John Peel’ which enabled the new style to reach a mass audience, often eclipsing the BBC in popularity. The BBC responded in the end with the advent of Radio 1 in June 1967. With the existing labor government making pirate radio illegal in Britain several months later, Du’s like John Peel rather than risk arrest joined radio 1 which had a much more informal and relaxed style as opposed to the staid and conservative approach favored by the BBC until then. This perfectly suited psychedelic pop and rock and John Peel championed this in his late night shows. playing new genres of music and introducing new and unsigned bands in the Peel sessions. He did this for nearly four decades until his death in 2004.

By the end of the 60’s after the break up of the beatles, mainstream music was about to change direction yet again both in style and fashion.

A Brief History of Rock and Pop Music

Lake @ the Lake District

You may be wondering when exactly did rock/pop music begin? There’s no clear answer to this. Some might say that it started with the advent of rock n roll with Bill Haley and the Comets in 1952. Others would say Elvis, although not the first but surely the original truly global superstar. Yet none of these were really the first. Rock n roll has its roots in blues which has its roots back to the 19th century with black immigrants trying to escape from their slave driven lives. Fast forward to the early 20th. century and some of the earliest recordings on 78 began to appear. Players from this time such as Bobby Jo and Robert Johnson helped to form the structure of early blues

Robert Johnson had recorded only thirty songs during his short life as he was prevented from achieving true fame while alive by being poisoned by a jealous husband. He died shortly before he was being sought to appear at the ‘Spirituals To Swing’ concert in 1938 by record producer John Hammond. As a result, his reputation only took off after Hammond released an album of his recordings for Columbia in the early sixties. Later blues exponents like Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton admitted borrowing heavily from these early stalwarts.

In the 50’s, artists took the basic blues style and used electric guitars, drums and double bass for the first time creating early rock n roll, later known as rockabilly. Stalwarts like Chuck Berry, Buddy Hollie and Jerry Lee Lewis were the most famous protagonists here. Later Elvis in the US and to a lesser extent, Cliff Richard (later leading the Shadows) in the UK brought rock n roll to a truly worldwide audience. This paved the way for the 60’s beat era which could be considered the true beginning of pop music as we know it today, certainly as far as bands were concerned.

In the 50’s and early 60’s, it was mostly lead solo artists with just a backing band. With the advent of the beat era, bands dominated with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys from the US taking the world by storm. Even so, The Beatles later admitted being heavily influenced by those earlier rock n roll and blues artists. They mostly played rock n roll and blues covers at their pre-fame Hamburg concerts. in the early 60’s. The Beatles however, were the first band to successfully blend classical music textures with rock n roll to form perfectly crafted pop songs. While bands like The Rolling Stones continued with the mainly rock n roll theme,

The Beatles took their finely crafted style further in the seminal album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ in 1967 by utilizing new studio techniques and instruments never used before. They used a new instrument called ‘the Melotron’ This was basically a keyboard which played looped tape recordings. of real instruments. The most famous sound from this was probably the flute used on the ‘Strawberry Fields’ single recorded at the same time but later dropped from the album. The Melotron though, was cumbersome and unreliable and had a rather grainy sound. Even so It was regarded as the forerunner of the electronic sampler, invented nearly 20 years later. Infinitely more flexible than the Melotron, the sampler helped build the framework for modern pop,dance and R&B music.

The Beatles ‘Sgt.. Pepper’ album with its groundbreaking recording techniques was preceded the year before by their ‘Revolver’ album. These LP’s helped popularize a new wave in music known as psychedelic or acid rock, named after the mind bending effects of LSD drugs. Pink Floyd also recorded their debut album ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ in the studio next door at the same time that The Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper. It was reported that Pink Floyd were a direct influence to The Beatles as a result. This new style incorporated new guitar effects like Fuzz, flanger anger and delays. These were used along side the earliest portable synthesizers such as the therein and mini Moog. invented by Bob Moog.

In America, the Beach boys responded with the ‘Pet sounds’ LP in 1966 and later that year released the first big psychedelic hit ‘Good Vibrations’. About this time, the band ‘Jefferson Airplane’ recorded their debut album which was also the first LP to come out of the new San Franciscan music scene. This got the record industry’s attention and they had two of the earliest psychedelic hits ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody to Love’ in 1967.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Jim Morrison joined with members of The Psychedelic Rangers and Rick and the Ravens to form ‘The Doors’ They were initially turned down by Columbia but were signed to Electra Records and released their self titled debut LP in 1967. The album included the 7 minute long hit single ‘Light my Fire’ one of the first to break the typical three minute pop and rock song barrier.

Back in Britain, radio broadcasting was very limited because the BBC were the only organization allowed to broadcast on the mainland and had just two pop music shows The Saturday club and Easy Beat Radio Luxembourg partially filled the gap but it was left to pirate radio, broadcast from ships out at sea with DJ John Peel’ which enabled the new style to reach a mass audience, often eclipsing the BBC in popularity. The BBC responded in the end with the advent of Radio 1 in June 1967. With the existing labor government making pirate radio illegal in Britain several months later, Du’s like John Peel rather than risk arrest joined radio 1 which had a much more informal and relaxed style as opposed to the staid and conservative approach favored by the BBC until then. This perfectly suited psychedelic pop and rock and John Peel championed this in his late night shows. playing new genres of music and introducing new and unsigned bands in the Peel sessions. He did this for nearly four decades until his death in 2004.

By the end of the 60’s after the break up of the beatles, mainstream music was about to change direction yet again both in style and fashion.

Famous Poets

Laugharne Castle

Famous poets are writers known for having poetry achievements. Most of these writers are deeply into writing poetry.

All famous poets are not popular well known people. Most people do not know much about these writers. Schools other than colleges may not provide detailed studying on them. Although they may not receive as much attention as people in other fields they should be honored and respected for their poetry achievements.

Most famous poets are authors who’ve had their own poetry book published or have poems in a poetry book. They also have biographies in books and on the internet as well. Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, Robert Frost and Robert Burns are just some of the many well known poets. Many of the most popular well known poets have died. Theses writers range from the present to dates later than the 1900.

If a person wants to become one of these poets a good place to start is to write a poetry book. The person’s poems in that book would have to be read and liked by readers for that person to have any real chance. Only serious poetry writers are most likely to become one of these poets. Because most people don’t earn much money in the field of poetry a career involving poetry is not something most people consider or want to take a chance in. As poetry continues to grow there will be more poets who become famous through poetry. Unfortunately some writers may only become a famous poet after they’ve died. You can find out a lot about theses writers through books written about these writers in libraries.

The Most Popular Fiction Authors in America By Number of Sales

Iracema Guardia, at Iracema Beach, Fortaleza, Brazil

It may shock you to know that there is no single repository of statistics for the number of books sold by an author. Likewise, there is no keeper of records on the sales of a particular book title. (Registering your book with the Library of Congress only protects the copyright. The library does not track sales.)

Authors or publishers get an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) that is unique to each book format. Thus, a title may have several ISBNs attached to it, one for hardback, one for paperback and one for an ebook. Writers may change publishers, and publishers may change their names, merge or disappear. Multiply this complexity by the sales made worldwide, and you can understand why the following figures have a tremendous margin for error.

This list includes only American fiction authors, who have sold over an estimated 100 million books. William Shakespeare and Agatha Christie, both Brits, are by far the biggest individual sellers of books with an estimated 2-4 billion. Yes, that is billion with a capital B. Keep in mind that the numbers refer to the complete works of an author (including co-written works) and not a specific title.

The list is fluid in that younger authors will no doubt improve their rankings over their careers. Likewise, as populations and communications have increased, so has the exposure of these authors to an increasing audience. The added popularity gained when a book is made into a movie or television show can cause sales and rankings to soar.

The prolific series of children’s or young adult books by R.L Stine, Ann M. Martin, Stan and Jan Berenstein, Richard Scarry, Gilbert Patten or Norman Bridwell (from 400 to 80 titles each) average just 2 million units per title. Taken as a body of work, each of these writers has sold over 110 million books. Dr. Seuss wrote just 44 books with the same rate of sales and like Stine and Patten are in the top ten. Only one nineteenth century writer, specializing in rags-to-riches stories about young boys, is in the top ten. Horatio Alger wrote 135 dime novels.

Although only ten American women (one of those, Jan Berenstein co-wrote with her husband) made the top forty, a woman, Danielle Steel, came in at number one. She has sold between 500-800 million romance books and has written about 120 titles. Other best selling romance writers include Janet Dailey, Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber and the youngest and least prolific author, Stephanie Meyer of Twilight fame. Other women in the top forty include gothic/horror author V.C. Andrews, whose works are now ghost written by a man; Anne Rice, the queen of vampires; suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark; and forensic writer Patricia Cornwell.

Two Western authors made the top twenty. Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey have both sold over 230 million books. L’Amour is credited with over 101 books, while Zane Grey’s count is unclear. Publishers sold about 24 of his books after his death in 1939, but a conservative estimate is around 55 titles.

Only one other American has done as well as Stephanie Meyer when it comes to selling the most books with the least number of titles. His name is Dan Brown. Thanks to Tom Hanks (The DaVinci Code) he has sold over 120 million books with just 5 titles. Likewise, only one name on the list is someone you might study in an American literature course. His name is Erskine Caldwell. You may have heard of his books, including Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre.

Mystery, suspense, thriller and private detective genres are often grouped together in the minds of readers. Together they represent the largest group of bestselling authors. Sidney Sheldon of television fame, Irving Wallace, champion of the underdog, and Mickey Spillane of the Mike Hammer series, have all reached their high rankings with roughly 25 titles. David Baldacci is gaining in rank with 25 titles of his own to date. The more fruitful authors include Dean Koontz, James Patterson and Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain), all of whom hover around the 100 mark. Straddling the middle ground of productivity with 50 titles is Rex Stout, famous for his Nero Wolfe series.

Legal and medical mysteries/thrillers are sought out for their occupational themes. John Grisham with 33 titles and Earl Stanley Gardner with 140 titles are the most noteworthy for their sales. Gardner, the Perry Mason writer may someday get surpassed in books sold given Grisham’s continuing movie adaptations. In the medical field Robin Cook has 27 titles, while Frank G. Slaughter wrote 62 books before his death.

There are two top-forty writers who fall under the adventure genre. Harold Robbins has sold over 750 million books with just 23 titles. Clive Cussler has 37 books with less than 150 million in sales. Cussler, L’Amour and Grey are what many women consider romance writers for men.

Some writers just don’t fit any mold. They not only stand out in their own unique way, but also define their genre. Among these are horror/fantasy writer Stephen King with 70 books to his credit and spy writer Robert Ludlum with 40 books. Michael Crichton of The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park is considered a techno-thriller/science fiction author. He wrote 25 books. James Michener had 47 titles to his historical fiction credit.

One last author that may surprise you wrote about 70 books, many in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He was eager to exploit his most popular fictional character, who has become an American icon. He even set up his own printing operation to publish his books. He became one of the oldest war correspondents in WWII and died in 1950. You may have heard of him, Edgar Rice Burroughs. If not, surely you’ve heard of his famous jungle character, Tarzan.

Famous Poets

Supernatural sunset

Famous poets are writers known for having poetry achievements. Most of these writers are deeply into writing poetry.

All famous poets are not popular well known people. Most people do not know much about these writers. Schools other than colleges may not provide detailed studying on them. Although they may not receive as much attention as people in other fields they should be honored and respected for their poetry achievements.

Most famous poets are authors who’ve had their own poetry book published or have poems in a poetry book. They also have biographies in books and on the internet as well. Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, Robert Frost and Robert Burns are just some of the many well known poets. Many of the most popular well known poets have died. Theses writers range from the present to dates later than the 1900.

If a person wants to become one of these poets a good place to start is to write a poetry book. The person’s poems in that book would have to be read and liked by readers for that person to have any real chance. Only serious poetry writers are most likely to become one of these poets. Because most people don’t earn much money in the field of poetry a career involving poetry is not something most people consider or want to take a chance in. As poetry continues to grow there will be more poets who become famous through poetry. Unfortunately some writers may only become a famous poet after they’ve died. You can find out a lot about theses writers through books written about these writers in libraries.