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  • hardie karges 6:08 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Asia, , , ,   

    Religion Imitates Art: Christian Self-Love and Buddhist Non-Self… 

    img_0953“Man is the measure of all things”…and there began our downfall, this from the Greek Sophist Protagoras and his very sophisticated argument that we human beings are the only thing that matters in this world, our silly views and opinions superior to all others, of course, by virtue of our virtue, and in spite of our spite, the pathological needs of humanity, a sort of radical solipsistic relativism…

    This argument only works with a strong belief and need for self, arguably the origin of consciousness, i.e. self-consciousness, and any further extrapolations indicative of the direction our culture has taken since then, hence our pathological need for democracy, free enterprise, a TV in every room and a car in every garage, every aspect an extension of, and ultimate belief in ourselves, each one of us totally different, supposedly, with or without the bar-code, identified by fingerprints and the DNA from random salivations and assorted misgivings… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 3:05 pm on December 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      It doesn’t take a genius to realize that there is a higher consciousness than self-consciousness, or that there are higher needs than selfish ones…absolutely, the opposite is a horror story!

  • hardie karges 9:29 am on July 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , Chinatown, , , , , ,   

    #Facebook #Chinatown: Where ‘Likes’ are the New Currency 

     

    Like Me, Baby...

    Like Me, Baby…

    Strolling through Facebook now is like strolling through Chinatown or along a carnival midway, complete with barkers and colored balloons, signs and advertisements now occupying every available inch of empty space, imperceptibly creeping like Capitalism into our lives and our computers and smart phones like viruses (virii?), the good kind, friendly bacteria that you can live with. In Chinatown there IS no empty space. Social media has degenerated into one big tease: “You won’t believe this!” or “You’ve got to see what happened next!” or “Don’t forget to share.” Likes are the new currency.

    (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:41 am on June 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, LEARNING,   

    RACE FOR RELIGION 

    Pidgin English replaces Pidgin Sanskrit and the history of Southeast Asia moves forward into the new millennium. The Indian influence seems as though it were always benign and probably one of the best justifications of India’s reputation as a guru-culture, i.e. a culture of teachers and teachings. It appears that that is exactly what they did in Southeast Asia about two thousand years ago, both as traditional Brahmanists and as the reformers, Buddhists, bringing not only religion, but alphabet and much new vocabulary. But as is always the case, ‘teacher, teach thyself.’ Hinduism in its original form is forever stained by its embrace of the caste system, a polite form of racism. There is always the danger of this in any culture with more than one race, of course, and the religious acceptance of it seems no more than an afterthought to justify what was already the case. While Buddhism never addressed the issue specifically, its lack of a caste system must have made it more attractive, all else being equal. Islam certainly capitalized on the inherent tension in the caste system and complemented it with its simple, but strict, teaching accessible to all, and an army promising plenty of spoils for the victors. To the present day Buddhist temples are centers of learning, if basic, in Southeast Asia and were for a long time almost the only centers. Islamic schools serve much the same function in its sphere of influence. It’s an open question as to why the history of the area is entirely dependent on Chinese annals for chronology and corroboration, given the advanced state of Indian learning and literacy.

     
  • hardie karges 8:57 pm on February 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , Mexixo, NAFTA   

    Afta Nafta the Lafta 

    Well, maybe.  But say what you want about FTA’s, Mexico’s changed a lot since the old days, and has closed much of the gap separating it from the first-world living standards of the US.  In the old days, at least right after the first major currency devaluation around 1980, you could get a room for a few bucks, private with running water, no pissing in the sink or anything like that.  Then it became hard to know whether inflation was causing devaluation or devaluation was causing inflation.  Mexicans are gougers at retail, probably a vestige of the monopolistic past.  If a merchant in Mexico wants more income, the method is simple: raise prices.  Being a part of an economic entity now with the US seems to stabilize all that.  If Mexican businesses aren’t competitive, then US companies will drive them out.  Latin American airlines have been decimated since US airlines moved in, though the same US airlines struggle to compete in the Asia market, where companies are nothing if not competitive.  The world is ruled by those who know how to hold money without spending it.  They’re the masters.  The slaves are those who spend every penny they get.  This distinction is without race or class and, in fact, promotes class mobility.  That’s all it takes to be in business, really.  My friends are of both types.  Though saving money is a traditional American virtue, it is somewhat eclipsed these days.  Chinese are good at it; Thais are not.  Ethnic Chinese rule Thailand, and always have.  What would Thailand be without Chinese businessmen?  Laos.  Ditto for Malaysia, Burma, Indonesia, Philippines, and others.  Southeast Asia without Chinese businessmen would still be a village-oriented society, which would be nice, but probably untenable.                

     
  • hardie karges 4:45 am on January 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , ,   

    LAOS 

     

    Laos is a ramshackle village, a forgotten place on a forgotten map. Lights go off in the outback at nine, so do it with flashlights. Till then the crowd outside divides according to TV programs, Thai or Chinese, or maybe a French bistro roasting in Asian backwater. By day pigs wander the streets looking for something they might have forgotten, and turkeys keep watch from behind their wire fence. Buffalo jerky lies drying in the sunlight, while flies fall asleep on their pile of shit, and yard-dogs forget to bark. Akha men look like refugees from a Fassbinder film: tribal bikers on dope, kings in their naked village of naked women and naked babies. Still, the babies suck tit like there is no tomorrow, so maybe they’re right. If you want to see Thailand like it used to be, then you go to Laos.

     
  • hardie karges 7:40 am on January 25, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia,   

    Vietnam is a war, not a country. 

    They’ve never been at peace with themselves, nor anyone else.  The best thing they have to commend themselves is the fact that they broke free of the yoke of Chinese domination after 1000 years.  That’s significant, though inconclusive as to whether they’ve improved their lot in the process.  Most nations in their position have multiple dialects and genetic relations with displaced neighbors and lost cousins and so forth, but not Vietnam.  They don’t get along with anybody.  They’re at the end of a cultural and linguistic dead end that presumably ties them to the Khmers at some distant point in the past, but acknowledged only as a client state in the present, presumably communicating with each other in either English or French if not Vietnamese.  Korea and Japan are in the same boat, the Asian Mystery, presumably related to each other, but no proven relationships to anyone else, though some inferences can be made.  The Viets’ only distinct relations are the nearby Muong, presumably their aboriginal cousins, living patchwork with aboriginal Tais, Tais in stilt-houses, Muongs on the ground.  If that’s not confusing enough, ‘muong’ itself is a prominent Thai word signifying, alternately, ‘the people’, ‘the city’, or ‘the country’.  Go figure. 

     
  • hardie karges 3:10 am on January 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, ,   

    Vietnam 

    Vietnam is the girdle holding in China’s pregnant belly, hanging out over the ocean, threatening to dump billions more upon us, DNA in a raincoat and rubbers and carrying a suitcase filled with samples of trinkets and useless gadgets. China is the most conservative country in the world, convinced of its superiority, entrenched in its own mythology. They rule from inside, allegiance to the past, allegiance to the memories, racist ideology in the guise of ancestor worship. There’s the Middle Kingdom and then there’s everything else. Asia is the most racist region in the world and it all started in the Middle, part of the face-saving mentality in which every human interaction assumes an upper-lower relationship, a caste system of the soul. Japan’s superiority complex is legendary, but Thailand is certainly no different. All these cultures share Chinese cultural roots. You could probably measure a country’s racism by the number of slang words it contains for persons of other races, but that might leave out Vietnam. Maybe that’s because Vietnam’s persecution complex masks its superiority complex. It’s certainly not exempt from racism. When the Vietnamese teenager up in Sapa winked at me and proceeded to run his motorbike up against a group of hill-tribe ladies I was hanging and chatting with, I felt the anger rise up through the ground and take my fists and start wailing on the poor guy oblivious. I still can’t believe he expected to impress me by being an asshole, like Kris Kristofferson in Lone Star winking in flashback before proceeding to shoot his poor victim, the event forestalled only because he himself was shot and killed instead. Fortunately the Viet guy’s engine was already running so he was able to get away with only minor damage to his ego.

     
  • hardie karges 9:58 am on January 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , rivers   

    Rivers Meander 

    Tibet waters Asia.  It’s all downhill from there.  From its 20,000 foot plateau flow the headwaters of the Indus, the Brahmaputra, the Salween, the Mekong, the Yangtze, and the Huang Ho.  The headwaters of the Indus and Brahmaputra almost meet, almost making of India an island reminiscent of its former history as a transient sub-continent looking for a home plate to slide into.  The upper waters of the Salween, Mekong, and Yangtze run almost parallel for 250 miles, only fifteen to thirty miles apart as the crow flies.  Those three empty into the Andaman, South China, and East China Seas, not far from the cities of Rangoon, Saigon, and Shanghai, a distance of over 2000 miles on that same crow’s odometer.  It would be much farther than that by boat, and an immeasurable distance by yardstick.  How long is your coastline?  That depends; how short is your ruler?  Napoleon’s ears prick up and Zeno’s paradox takes over, and you never really get there, because the halfway points are infinite.  I’ll take wise old crow; he cuts to the chase.  

     
  • hardie karges 9:47 am on January 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia   

    Asia 

    Asian jet lag is the worst, for an American, one day of travel and a week to recover, like the heroin hangover of a lost weekend.  That’s the nice thing about South America, little or no jet lag when it’s all over, at least as long as the continents stay in their current configurations.  You can go north and south all you want with little or no effect, except maybe a little Coriolis effect pulling you a bit to the right, like the brakes pulling to one side in my old pick-up.  Maybe that’s why Asia is so different, because it’s so far away from the seat of rationalism and so close to China.  Like Mexico, ‘so far from God, so close to the United States’, Southeast Asia is ‘so far from Buddha, so close to China’.  For centuries everyone in Southeast Asia, all of them of near or distant Chinese origin, have been embracing other philosophies and life-ways besides the Chinese central dogma, about equally divided between Theravada Buddhism, Islam, and Communism, deriving from India, Arabia, and Europe.  This is not the crossroads of history, nor the world.  This is the detour, the long way home.  You could get lost here, but that’s maybe okay.  At least the women are beautiful, plenty of eye-candy.  If this is a dead end, then you could do worse.

     
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