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  • hardie karges 11:12 am on June 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Religion 201: Lessons in Humility, Messages for Humanity… 

    Christian God

    Christian God

    “Man is the measure of all things.”  Protagoras (c.490-420 BCE) is the author of that statement, and—with all due respect—I’d say that’s the beginning of the end of us humans as spiritual animals, and the mark of our ascension to the status of corrupt malignant city-dwellers, masters of our own private little domains and little else.  On the one hand, it is a statement of the relativity of all perceptions—okay.  On the other hand, it is a statement of our ignorance and arrogance—ouch!

    We imagine that we are masters of the universe, creators of the cosmos, and lords of the lower two hundred—countries in the world, that is. This is nothing but human hubris, of course, and nothing could be further from the truth.  We live at the mercy of our machines, possessed by our possessions, in the thrall of our inventions and our inventiveness, in love with ourselves and our selfishness, enraptured by our images and our imaginations.  We wallow in our memories and our comforts and our conveniences.

    We Westerners admire ourselves, our successes, our ambitions, our madness, without even questioning the whys and wherefores of it.  We climb naked rock faces, while smiling all the time, oblivious to the danger, addicted to the climb, always looking for a faster computer and a more easily programmable car, pushing envelopes and shuffling papers, rejecting our traditions and annoying our neighbors.  Ego rules! Nobody wants to be the follower, everybody wants to be the Alpha male, while ending up the Alpha a$$hole. (More …)

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  • hardie karges 7:00 am on April 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddha-Consciousness in a Pill: In Defense of ‘Low-T’… 

    IMG_1665

    Thai Buddhist Temple

    Is there anything more pathetic and disgusting than watching an old man trying to get it up just one more time, meter running, with multiple payment options? Enter Viagra, and sex tourism, and you name it: ‘Low T’ (testosterone), the male sex hormone, or absence thereof…

    It’s all about reproduction, or dying trying, in this life in this world, in this dimension, in this plane of existence, Boeing 747’s equipped with 1st-class cubicles with reclining seats just in case the mood strikes, at the moment of inspiration at the moment of conception…

    Welcome to Thailand, where ‘feed-us’ farming is the late-life equivalent of fetus-farming, for-hire breeding, artificial selection, putting guys out to pasture with hopefully one last biscuit in the oven, just to make things official, and put the young lady on an inheritance plan…

    Low-T? Guys need to take meds for ‘low-T’? That’s like spitting in the face of God, as if Viagra, Cialis, and that pharmacopia weren’t bad enuf, pumps and pills and multifarious cheap thrills in the back seat of cars too small now for proper breeding, need an early model Cadillac…

    It’s ironic that our major form of entertainment—sex—all around the world was never intended for entertainment at all, if we can correctly intuit the mind of God, but you gotta’ give it credit, maybe pandas should take a lesson and start chewing each others genitals instead of so much bamboo while they go happily extinct…

    It’s just a chemical! Without that chemical testosterone and its stiffening influence on the lower extremities, all of our stories and music and literature and art would amount to little, all the philosophies and religion and denominations and free sects… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:18 am on December 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: culture, ,   

    Music is the universal language, 

    capable of enjoyment regardless of whether one knows the language in question or not. Language is secondary to music, as it is to film. Writers don’t write music, and they don’t write screenplays. People ask me what I talk about with my wife as if the eastern reality must be incomprehensible to a westerner. You don’t have to read much Chomsky to realize that life is very similar regardless of the language(s) involved; and I’m a Sapirian. I do think that language influences one’s reality in the same way that a computer program or operating system or even your search engine influences your computing output. Certainly they’re both right. The fact that the geographically contiguous and culturally similar ‘Pueblo’ Indians speak not only different languages, but languages from four different language families only two of which are remotely related says something. The fact that their reality is (or at least WAS) far different from all other language phyla says something else. To describe as ‘human’ a creature without language is almost unthinkable.

     
  • hardie karges 5:48 am on December 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply
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    Written language pulls together what spoken language splits apart. 

    For probably the first time in history languages are no longer dividing and multiplying and declaring independence at the same time that more and more nations are. Go figure. Dialects are disappearing under the onslaught of mass media and standardized education, in favor of a national standard language. A language is a dialect with a book and a sword. National languages are themselves in danger of disappearing in favor of international standards, once the national languages become deviant or pidginized to the point of incomprehensibility. Already French and Chinese movies offer subtitles in their own language. IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE! This is understandable with mutually unintelligible Chinese dialects that share the same written language, but French has no convenient excuse. It’s just hard to understand in the vernacular, like subtitles for senile mumblers in documentaries.

     
  • hardie karges 7:26 am on December 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
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    The French get so righteous about the spread of English 

    at the expense of French (maybe French is just more expensive), but they do the same with Dutch/Flemish and others. All of Belgium, and especially Brussels, used to be a political and linguistic entity with Holland to the north and its Germanic language. That all changed with Napoleon and the Flemish had to wait long and fight hard just to regain parity. Of course, long before that, all Franks were part of that same entity before they became ‘Romanized’ and proceeded to butcher Latin. Apparently not all of Charlemagne’s progeny were in agreement on that issue, as the domain became divided, and the French/Latin-speakers became a centralized nation long before the rump Holy Roman Empire of independent principalities became Germany. Whether the centralization of ancient Rome was somehow transmitted through the vestiges of its language while the Germans were stuck in the proud but ultimately feudal heritage of its own tribal past would be an interesting thesis. Whether the individualism and de-centralization of ancient nomadic Germany was the basis of capitalism and industry is another. Throughout the entire Germanic Europe to this day the dialects spoken are mutually intelligible from one village to the next, though the national standard dialects have become mutually unintelligible.

     
  • hardie karges 6:14 am on December 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply
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    Language is one thing and races are another. 

    Races are historically geographic in nature, a genetic isolate in breeding, while language is a function of culture. The two phenomena parallel and overlap each other, but seldom form crisp clean lines equating a language/race on one side of the line to another on the other side. Sometimes it seems as though languages themselves are the conquering invaders, crossing borders and conquering new territory even when the number of people involved is almost insignificant. Latin America is probably the best example of this, where a mere handful of Spaniards subjugated millions of Native Americans with fear, cunning, superior weaponry, and germ warfare. Though decimated, the natives’ numbers rebounded with the help of an admixture of disease-resistant Spanish blood. Nevertheless, much of the culture was forever lost, and Spanish and Portuguese are by far the language of the majority. Interestingly, one of the surviving native languages, Guarani’, is a national language spoken mostly by non-Indians. Though shrouded in the mists of prehistory, something similar must have happened in India, where ethnic Iranians (Aryans) spread far more language than bloodlines over the sub-continent and over time, still expanding into the future, having left vestiges all over Southeast Asia. On the contrary, people very similar racially might speak totally unrelated languages, as in the Caucasus and Africa. There Hamitic-speaking Hausas reside far from their Semitic linguistic cousins and tend to be ruled by Hausa-speaking Fulanis, traditional herders who have their own language but use that of their subjects when acting as rulers. A similar situation exists in Ethiopia, where very dark-skinned people speak languages related to the very light-skinned people across the Red Sea. Sometimes it seems a people adopt a foreign language simply because it’s an improvement over their own. This, the Celts seem to have done repeatedly in the history of Europe. It could certainly be argued that they’ve sacrificed their culture in the process.

     
  • hardie karges 4:56 pm on December 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: culture, ,   

    By my linguistic and culinary comparisons, 

    I’d estimate that Thais and Viets diverged from a common source probably about three thousand years ago, coincidentally about the time that Han Chinese began emigrating southward in heavy numbers. Austronesian Proto-Malays probably diverged from that same common source about four to five thousand years ago before sailing the seas and settling islands as far away as Madagascar and Hawaii and New Zealand. Very few traces remain of that distant association, if indeed the theory is correct, but as they say, “What goes around comes around,” and Malays and Thais were destined to meet once again in the Isthmus of Kra along their current national borders. Thai curries probably come from this association. Most words in common between Thai and Malay result from the common pre-Muslim flirtation with India and Sanskrit. After their conversion to Islam, Malays even became re-established in Southeast Asia as an inter-bred race with their long-lost Cham brethren in Cambodia, also Austronesian and supposedly the original link between the Tai and Malay languages. This happened after their once-proud culture was nearly annihilated by the land-hungry Vietnamese at about the same time that Columbus was discovering America. Whether they remained on the mainland or came back is uncertain, but their aboriginal cousins are heavily intermixed with aboriginal Khmers in the central Vietnamese highlands, they also presumably a product of that original southern Chinese proto-race.

     
  • hardie karges 1:38 pm on December 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: culture,   

    It may be that a people emerging from the shadows of history 


    and an aboriginal past adopt the first ‘high culture’ and language they come in contact with, as Thais with India and Sanskrit. Or maybe the last, as with Indonesia and Islam and Arabic, displacing the previous Indian and Sanskrit. Or perhaps a mixture works better, in the case of the Philippines’ Spanish Catholicism, but wide facility with the more recent English language influence. It’s probably no accident that Southeast Asia is the prime example for this phenomenon, given its long history of ‘cultural relativity’ and frequent position as a playing field for the great powers of China, India, Europe, and Arabia. Still they retained their native language in most cases, the notable exceptions being the far-flung and vastly outnumbered Polynesians in Hawaii and Easter Island. Southeast Asia and the South Pacific Islands are good examples of what I consider feminine cultures, ultimately flexible and looking to marry up, making up with makeup what they lack in logic.

     
  • hardie karges 9:11 pm on November 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: culture, ,   

    Forget DNA and its handmaiden language, 

    rewrite history in terms of cuisine, the trails of tomatoes and the paths of potatoes. The Chinese leave gastronomical tracks wherever they go. All people do. Thais immigrate with kitchen utensils, opening restaurants like plowing fields and claiming land, blurring the edge between origin and immigration. There’s something magic about a name on a map becoming reality in the flesh, complete with tacos and tom yam, spring rolls and pizza, sex and chocolate. The moon sets over a featureless plain as trains pass through the night and border guards check my papers. Names of cities flash by on signs like flash cards to study a language that just keeps changing everywhere you go. Just when you think you’ve about got it figured out, it shifts gears by some Chomskyan rule of transformation and proceeds by another set of standards. Those are the other borders that reside within consciousness, separating not time nor space, but operating systems, thought, virtual consciousness.

     
  • hardie karges 11:04 am on November 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: culture, ,   

    The cultural DNA of food leaves tracks everywhere. 


    The first thing I do in any country, outside of Asia at least, is look for Chinese food. In Venezuela, there are plenty of chifas, but no chaufa, only arroz frito. But there, egg rolls are called lumpia, a prominent Philippine dish, not the rollos or chun kun of elsewhere south of the border. I’ll have to try one to see if they’re actually the same dish. In Peru, soy sauce is known as sillao, similar to the si iw of Thailand and the original shi-yau of Cantonese, from which Japanese shoyu, typical Spanish soya, soy, and all other variations ultimately derive. Venezuelan food itself is typical of the fried greasy fare that defines the Caribbean, poor cuts of meat and an infinite variety of starches cooked in hot melted lard at varying levels of temperatures. The important thing is to soak up as much of that grease as possible to get the most for your money. Women proudly let their bellies hang out in imitation of their British counterparts, no reason to be ashamed of what’s in your genes and jeans. Hell, where I came from, if you didn’t put on fat you’d die, as did all those Roman dilettantes testing their luck in the northern winters.

     
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