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White collar worldview 101

My husband, a mechanical engineer from the rural midwest, recently moved to a position in the white-collar engineering workforce - what does he need to know to thrive? [more inside]
posted by bookdragoness on Aug 13, 2014 - 18 answers

Can you buy small quantities of 11x17 paper in South Korea?

People in my (US-based) office are going nuts today trying to overnight a ream of blank 11x17 paper to Korea. Is this really necessary? [more inside]
posted by Naberius on Aug 13, 2014 - 12 answers

Road scholar

Let's say you have a kid - 10-15 years old, so maybe grades 5-10 - and you decide to pull them out of school for a year. During that time, you are going to drive around the United States with the goal of learning, in an authentic way, as much as possible about American history, culture, and geography. Where do you go, and what do you read? [more inside]
posted by goodbyewaffles on Aug 9, 2014 - 15 answers

I can put together words so that they sound nice. I can't write. Why?

All my life, people have complimented me on my abiity to write well. In middle and high school, it was writing good chapter summaries, literary analyses and essays for homework using flowery language. In college, it became about construction and the flow of ideas, and I found myself to be reasonably adept at that as well. I'm currently jobless ( looking for my first job at 25), and when people chime in with suggestions on how to fix that, they can't understand why I poo-poo the idea of writing professionally out of hand. Help me develop my writerly mind and get myself out of the English class for good. [more inside]
posted by marsbar77 on Aug 7, 2014 - 25 answers

Is it OK to sit beside a stranger when many other seats are available?

I have a question about different cultural norms regarding personal space. Specifically, taking the seat right next to somebody in an empty waiting room, bus, train, study hall, etc. [more inside]
posted by dontjumplarry on Aug 5, 2014 - 30 answers

Pairing fiction with eras in common

So two books I really love are Heaven to Betsy and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love how they go into the details of the period they take place, particularly the fashion and food. It was also only recently I realised that they take place roughly around the same era. It really surprised me because they are so completely different to one another. Francie has an alcoholic father and the family can barely get food on the table; Betsy's biggest ordeal is falling in love with a boy that doesn't like her back and not studying for an essay contest. So my question is two-fold and is aimed at requesting book suggestions. [more inside]
posted by like_neon on Jul 25, 2014 - 23 answers

Boston, Austenite. Austenite, Boston.

Please introduce me to the institutions, places, publications, and other tips, tricks, and shibboleths that will help me to hit the ground running when I relocate to Boston. [more inside]
posted by Austenite on Jul 21, 2014 - 37 answers

Essentially New Jersey?

In order to block out a new writing thing. I'm looking for things that are essentially or unquiely New Jersian in flavor or references that would ping a lifelong resident of the state- types of stores and houses, idioms, vacation spots, regional foods, etc. I'm also looking for media that has the right feel of the Garden State that aren't Kevin Smith movies. I've read this AskMe about New Jersey books already and I've seen The Sopranos. What are other examples of "Only in NJ" things? [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Jul 11, 2014 - 73 answers

How do you keep your calm when everyone around you is manic?

I work in an office that is highly vulnerable to stress and panic. At the same time, I do my best work when I can focus, exclude distractions and prioritize. How can I keep the tendency to join the panic wagon at bay? [more inside]
posted by Kurichina on Jul 7, 2014 - 11 answers

Philosophy class in French lycees

It is my understanding that French high school students take a year-long philosophy course in the last year of the lycee. So what's it like in this course, anyway? [more inside]
posted by the hot hot side of randy on Jul 5, 2014 - 5 answers

Maybe we are stuck-up jerks.

My boyfriend and I are considering moving to the Twin Cities. [more inside]
posted by stoneandstar on Jun 29, 2014 - 27 answers

State of Being Other

How to reconcile the differences between your origin and daily society? [more inside]
posted by chrono_rabbit on Jun 27, 2014 - 12 answers

I just lost my appetite. Again.

Where I'm living now, it seems really common for the local people to leave food on their faces while they're eating. This makes it difficult for me to enjoy meals. [more inside]
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper on Jun 27, 2014 - 16 answers

Is my necklace racist?

I inherited a beaded necklace I would like to wear, but first let me run it by you: is it racist? [more inside]
posted by The corpse in the library on Jun 24, 2014 - 16 answers

What a college education "means" in 2014

What is the basic cultural literacy and knowledge a post-collegiate adult "should" have in 2014? Are there certain humanities subjects you assume or expect everyone in your college-educated social circle to have a baseline understanding of - semiotics? Critical theory? Familiarity with a bunch of poetry, drama, novels, sociological texts, art, music? None of that? [more inside]
posted by naju on Jun 18, 2014 - 28 answers

To caulk or not to caulk?

In an Australian rental unit, how likely is it that our landlords will expect the caulking in the shower to be clean at move-out, and if they will, should we do the caulking ourselves to avoid paying a handyman for this simple but tedious and probably time-consuming job? [more inside]
posted by gingerest on Jun 15, 2014 - 13 answers

What are the current important cultural touchstones of 11-13 yr olds?

I teach a summer camp, and on the first day we hand out a list of questions and have the students interview each other one-on-one as an ice-breaker. We do it very quickly, so simple questions are the best. What are some things that a group of 11-13 yr olds (mostly girls) are likely to have an opinion on? Thanks!
posted by velebita on Jun 6, 2014 - 21 answers

Cultural Etiquette -- Turkey

Someone I work with is Turkish and in Turkey for the summer. He asked me to let him know if I would like something from Turkey. I do! But do I take him up on it? [more inside]
posted by zizzle on Jun 4, 2014 - 17 answers

What are good books on Korean culture for a recent k-drama addict?

My mom has recently become addicted to Korean dramas, and not having much pre-existing knowledge of Korean culture, she always has a lot of questions about cultural details. Her birthday is coming up and I'd like to get her a good book about modern Korean culture. [more inside]
posted by shirobara on May 28, 2014 - 2 answers

Looking without seeing: art appreciation edition

I make an effort to visit art museums very regularly. I love art! How can I make the most out of my visit? I would also welcome suggestions for how to get more out of the books I read and films I watch. [more inside]
posted by gemutlichkeit on May 22, 2014 - 9 answers

Is there any way to help my friend?

Someone who's been a good friend of mine for nearly a decade is going through a long rough patch (a rough field?). Is there anything concrete that I can offer her? [more inside]
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper on May 9, 2014 - 7 answers

And then he said, "How do you think I rang the doorbell?"

I'm looking for examples of jokes that just don't translate. [more inside]
posted by vogon_poet on May 3, 2014 - 14 answers

How to increase my attention span?

I don't seem to have the attention span for books, TV series and movies anymore, and I'm missing out on a lot of good entertainment, as well as having a general feeling of being culturally 'out of it'. How can I increase my attention span and start getting into long-form entertainment again? [more inside]
posted by Ziggy500 on Apr 24, 2014 - 17 answers

How can I fall in love with my city?

I've been in Rochester, NY for two and a half years now for graduate study, and I have about that much longer to stay here. I haven't liked the city since I moved here (the weather is terrible, the city is small and geographically isolated, it feels like everything important is happening elsewhere, the natural beauty is underwhelming, etc. etc.). Recently I've come to believe that it isn't really the town's fault, but mine, since I never really gave Rochester a chance. How do you cultivate a love for a city that you didn't grow up in, never intended to come to, and plan to leave as soon as professionally possible? [more inside]
posted by Archibald Edmund Binns on Apr 9, 2014 - 34 answers

Is motive a Western concept?

In the MH370 thread, I had asked what the motive would be for the pilot to commit suicide in the way that experts think the plane probably went down, and this comment had be very curious. Is motive really a culturally specific idea? And if so, why can't I wrap my mind around that?
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Apr 9, 2014 - 19 answers

Recommendations for new blogs/websites to read

I am looking for some recommendations for some new blogs/websites to read. I love all things pop culture, am not super into fashion blogs but do like to peruse ones that feature casual looks from time to time and like dry or offbeat humor. [more inside]
posted by ridiculous on Apr 2, 2014 - 6 answers

Sociological or anthropological studies on insular or peninsular cities?

I'm looking for academic-level writing on the ways that cities that are built on islands or peninsulas, or in geographically isolated areas, develop and behave differently from cities that are more easily and fully connected to other cities. This would be about the mindset and attitudes and not about urban planning or infrastructure. I'm thinking these may be anthropological or sociological studies. They may even just be a thought pieces or essays. I could swear I saw one that talked about Manhattan and Charleston, but I can't find it.
posted by Mo Nickels on Mar 26, 2014 - 5 answers

Expat married to a local, really struggling, seeking help

Finally giving in and looking for a therapist, while permanently living abroad... what 'cultural combination' should one look for? Don't want my current mental state to cloud my thinking. Details inside. [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Mar 21, 2014 - 9 answers

Help me adjust to (or tolerate) the Midwest...

I grew up and attended university on the East Coast. I don't know what I was thinking when I matriculated at a graduate program in the Midwest-- perhaps I thought that having lived in diverse settings would be a good life experience or something (?) ... Well, what's done is done, and I'm here for the next three years. Please help me better deal with this culture shock! [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Mar 14, 2014 - 60 answers

What do I need to be a bedroom / no plans on going public / turntablist?

I am obsessed with DJ Yoda, who is a pretty famous turntablist DJ. Example of his work In a nutshell, he takes either existing music or beats he creates on his own and mixes it with dialogue samples from other music, tv shows, movies, etc.....Add some scratching and all that type of stuff. I wanna learn how to do that. What do I need? [more inside]
posted by TwilightKid on Mar 10, 2014 - 3 answers

Best of New Orleans

A friend and I are taking a short trip (about 3 days) to New Orleans. We're staying near the French Quarter, access to buses and bikes. Where should we go, what should we do? [more inside]
posted by serelliya on Mar 8, 2014 - 7 answers

I have a $33,000 dream. Plus or minus 10K.

I'd like to buy a home in a very cheap place that still has culture--local, regional, and national music. Museums, public attractions, parks. Bike friendly and/or walkable and/or good public transportation system. Great natural attractions nearby--hiking, rafting, kayaking, swimming, climbing, caving, hunting, fishing. Where is this possible? [more inside]
posted by jsturgill on Mar 4, 2014 - 44 answers

African languages among enslaved people in the USA.

When did enslaved Africans in the US stop speaking African languages? [more inside]
posted by jason's_planet on Mar 2, 2014 - 19 answers

Inspired by The Vagina Monologues?

Which other productions have taken on the model of The Vagina Monologues - first-person stories about gender, sexuality, and womanhood? (I'm interested in those that share the model but have custom material, not necessarily the script of VMon as performed by specific demographics.) [more inside]
posted by divabat on Feb 24, 2014 - 6 answers

Help me come up with Pop Culture ways of saying goodbye

I was thinking last night that I would would like to start being cooler. One way I have came up with is by using some really cool parting words when leaving work or groups of friends (hopefully I can get some with this new "cool" plan). Some phrases that I came up with were "Stay gold Ponyboy" and "Be Excellent to each other". Now wouldn't I be cool? But that won't get me very far down the road. What are some other awesome Pop Culture phrases I can use to leave a cool impression on people?
posted by kenaldo on Feb 20, 2014 - 68 answers

What was the last major racially-segregated event in the US?

Does anyone know what the last segregated event was in the US ? I'm curious about "major events", say around 10,000 people. [more inside]
posted by dubold on Feb 18, 2014 - 8 answers

If You Have Half A Brain

In Rupert Holmes' "Escape", there are a couple of lines that seem at odds with what I would call hippie culture, namely "If you're not into yoga" and "I'm not much into health food." Yet some of the other bits like "getting caught in the rain," "the feel of the ocean," and "making love at midnight in the dunes on the Cape" seem, to my more modern viewpoint, in line with hippie-esque ideals. So what's the deal? [more inside]
posted by papayaninja on Feb 17, 2014 - 29 answers

Moving beyond Sokal?

I am interested in articles that try to analyze and explain the conflict between the hard and soft sciences. In my casual web surfing I have come across e.g. highly-trained scientists who yet express a deep disdain for fields as open-ended and far-ranging as sociology, feminism, queer theory, postmodernism, and so on, sometimes even economics, psychology. I find such attitudes hard to comprehend, and even disturbing since my educational background is in the applied sciences. Which are the important works that have been done to better understand this ongoing social/intellectual gap, and that are presented in a readable manner for a non-expert?
posted by polymodus on Jan 4, 2014 - 10 answers

Learning how to set limits and follow through on them

I need help in learning how to firmly say no and in changing patterns that have been years in the making. I’m an empathetic and intuitive person and I’m very generous. It’s second nature to me to offer to help out or to support my friends. I come from a very ‘what’s mine is yours’ approach. I’ve given people places to stay, financial support, intensive emotional support and career assistance. I like being this way; it’s true to me and I’m not resenting or adding it up…but I feel I am training some people to exploit me or to assume they are always entitled to my help. I’m happy with these parts of myself, but recently I’ve started feeling that my kindness and sensitivity to others needs and boundaries is encouraging some people to treat me as if I have no boundaries or needs myself. [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Jan 4, 2014 - 35 answers

What are some good blogs for learning about other cultures?

I'm interested in resources (particularly blogs) that will help me learn about the interesting aspects of other cultures. I would like to be exposed to ideas that will challenge my assumptions about what is "normal" and about how society should work
posted by casebash on Jan 2, 2014 - 12 answers

Coffee in Italy Question

A friend just moved to Italy and has mentioned that almost all of the cafes in Milan and Rome now serve a product called Caffe al Ginseng (coffee with ginseng). Given Italy's status as one of the authentic and original coffee cultures, I was surprised to hear about the seaming popularity on this new offering. Can anyone shed some light on this coffee type? [more inside]
posted by beisny on Jan 2, 2014 - 10 answers

Around the World in Eighty Pages

I am trying to read my way around the globe. Can you please recommend me international fiction/memoirs that frame the contemporary culture, customs, and values of the country that it is set in? [more inside]
posted by sevenofspades on Dec 30, 2013 - 13 answers

Crush Me Out on Sweden!

I have developed an unavoidable crush on Sweden. I want to hear from Mefi locals about the best your country has to offer, things you love about living there, music, culture, all of it - help me crush out on Sweden! [more inside]
posted by Lipstick Thespian on Dec 17, 2013 - 10 answers

Examples of transactional relationships in pre-industrial cultures

Anthropologists, please help-- I'm looking for unique examples of interpersonal relationships or family/friendship customs that are blatantly transactional, specifically in so-called "primitive" tribes or far-flung cultures that exist/have existed within the past century. The more surprising, extreme, or out-there the anecdote, the better. [more inside]
posted by np312 on Nov 29, 2013 - 10 answers

How do courses at dinner work where you live?

I am in the UK and am fascinated by a 'salad course' separate to either a starter or main course. I would like to know how that works, and how a typical multi-course meal would go where you live. [more inside]
posted by plonkee on Nov 22, 2013 - 27 answers

Can you help me understand this sign of mourning I saw in Honduras?

When I was living in Honduras, I noticed that when a person died, the family would hang up a large piece of black fabric outside of their house or in their window. This banner would be cut into a shape that reminded me of a bow tie. This might be a long shot, but does anyone know what the history is behind this tradition? [more inside]
posted by Paper rabies on Nov 16, 2013 - 7 answers

Are cliques the result of human nature, or a cultural/societal thing?

OK... I'm probably going to mangle this question, because I'm not a sociologist or anthropologist, or remotely knowledgeable in those fields. So, I'm probably using all my terms incorrectly. But, long story short - it's been my experience that most behaviors that laypeople, in casual conversation, call "human nature" are really just cultural phenomena. In other words - a behavior that someone from the United States thinks is "human nature" might be completely absent in another culture or society. It that's true - then it's not really "human behavior" at all. So - my question - is the tendency for kids in grade school to form cliques "human nature" - or a phenomena that's specific to certain (e.g., our) cultures? [more inside]
posted by stuehler on Nov 5, 2013 - 17 answers

Beyond the Berlin Trilogy

Seeking recommendations on media--books (novels and nonfiction), movies, music, maybe even documentaries--on life in Berlin during the 1980s and 1990s. I'm especially interested in the punk scene and any other counter cultural groups through this time period. [more inside]
posted by Kitty Stardust on Oct 26, 2013 - 12 answers

Moving to Belgium. What do I need to think about?

This is a pretty big question but there are two essential parts to it: the things I need to think about when moving, and those I need to consider for living there for a reasonable length of time (18 months probably). [more inside]
posted by fearnothing on Oct 21, 2013 - 11 answers

Something that's lasted for a long time will continue to endure?

Is there a word to describe the idea that something that has proven its value for a long time (for example the music of Mozart) is likely to endure into the future? I remember reading something to this effect in Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Antifragile, but my a search of the index and my google fu fail me. TIA
posted by quidividi on Oct 19, 2013 - 18 answers

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