Welcome to Table Topics

A Quick Look at a Mix of Subjects – Have Fun!


Table Topics?

What the heck is Table Topics? Glad you asked. Many years ago, I stumbled into a Toastmasters Club. What a lucky day that was! I returned for many an enjoyable meeting – and in so doing, picked up a theme for today’s blog.

For those unfamiliar with them, Toastmasters Clubs exist all over the world, bringing together 3 groups of people: those who enjoy public speaking, those who wish to improve their public speaking abilities, and those who are scared to death of speaking in public but are determined to defeat that limitation (which they do, by the hundreds every year).

One of my favorite Toastmasters exercises is known as Table Topics. The Master of Ceremonies goes around the room, randomly picking people, giving them an off the wall topic to speak on, and giving them a one-minute time limit to speak – without consulting a watch or clock. It’s a challenge to be accurate, engaging, and timely – all at once. It is great fun.

So, with that theme in mind, today’s blog is a short set of quick topics – a printed version of table topics. Some include links for more information or enjoyment. I hope you will check them out. They are about as unrelated and broad in focus as one could imagine.

Oh, and since I am blowing the horn for Toastmasters, here is a link. Check out your local clubs. You can have a fine time, improve yourself, and mentor others. Not a bad way to spend an hour or two, eh? https://www.toastmasters.org

Why am I Seeing Ted Cruz on TV and the Internet So Often?

I know the man never saw a microphone he did not covet, but enough, already. Lest we forget, he was a prime fomenter and defender of the insurrection on January 6. He voted to decertify America’s national elections. Why are networks and platforms giving him so much face time?

I get that we are stuck with doing so for the likes of McConnell and McCarthy, as they are elected legislative leaders. But Cruz? As Joe Biden might say, C’mon man. If you find 5 people in the US Congress who actually like and respect Cruz, I guarantee you 4 of them were confused and had someone else in the mind. The fifth one would be Cruz himself. Let’s take a Cruz break, America.

What Do 29 Tornadoes in One Day Tell Us?

 This past week a comparatively small part of the US South/South East had no less than 29 tornedos in a single day. That, my friend, is not normal. So what might it mean. Scientifically, it could be the ever-increasing feedback loop of violent weather that seems tied to global warming.

On a more gut level, it just as easily could mean that Gaia, the consciousness of our world, is pissed. She has had enough with our carelessness and abuse and is either sending us some final warnings to knock it off, or has begun culling our herd, as we are a recurring problem not self-healing as we could be.

Both explanations could be true, but the latter one rings a bell with me. Carl Sagen used to remind us that the earth is millions of years old, while our presence is very short and only of late. If you think we are the end of evolution or its pinnacle, Nature has a surprise ending or two in mind for you. Just watch.

The Suez Canal Story

This one has fascinated us all in recent days. Big canal, big boat, bad line up. One ship in one place is throwing global commerce into a tailspin. The backlog is amazing. All of which reminds us how interconnected we all are these days. The idea of a Fortress America/America First politics is made an even bigger joke by events like to this.

A couple of footnotes. Someone I respect asked the question what if this was not an accident, but a practice round at creating international turmoil? Interesting thought. It would not be hard at all to block the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal, and the Straits of Hormuz, all at once. Watch that scenario unroll. Not pretty on a zillion grounds.

Second, the whole process of choosing a sea route is a fascinating mix of timing, costs, weather, politics, and more. For example, taking a big tanker through the Suez Canal can cost close to $500,000. Not using it adds weeks to the journey. Which decision makes sense? Depends. Read on: https://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-events/shunning-the-suez-tankers-take-the-long-route-cash.htm

Two Great Reads in The Atlantic

Long time readers know I am an unabashed fan of The Atlantic magazine. A recent edition has two articles, both very, very short that are exceptionally thoughtful. They are well worth your time and reflection.

One is on the death of religion in America. The trend is indeed clear, and I for one don’t see that necessarily as a bad thing. I don’t agree with everything the author posits, but a good point is made as to why something like religion could be more important in America than in many other countries and why politics is becoming a very poor replacement for religion.  See what you think. Interesting issues on politics and religion herein. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/04/america-politics-religion/618072/

The other is an old theme, brought up to date: Is America looking like the Roman empire in its final days? Some interesting comparisons and insights here. See what you think, and what you think all that might mean. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/04/no-really-are-we-rome/618075/

Just for Fun: Two YouTube Leads

On those occasions wherein I find myself still conscious and a couple of good brain cells still functioning, I can always count on watching a couple of YouTube videos to kill the last of my thinking capacity for a while. But hey, sometimes, we just need to chill out. Here are a couple I am happy to share.

Apparently, cat people have known for some time that if you sneak up on a cat and place a cucumber behind it, the cat will seriously freak out when it sees it. I assume it thinks the thing is a snake. Whatever, the acrobatics that result are hilarious – and physically impressive. There are dozens of these clips posted. Here is one of them.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNycdfFEgBc

I really enjoy classical music, but lots of other types of music as well. Last year I discovered two guys (one from Croatia, one from Poland) who break the molds. Known by the group name, Two Cellos, they are quite accomplished cellists but also great showman, with a wicked sense of humor. They have several videos. This one gives you a feel for what they do. At about the 45 second minute mark, you know something is up and you are off to the races. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8yymm3DtVA

See you at the end of the week.

                       Bill Clontz

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1 reply to Welcome to Table Topics

  1. Many thanks for a great read with superb links to varied and interesting topics! From sobering to hilarious.

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