Saturday, March 29, 2008

What does the Dalai Lama actually stand for?

Is Dalai Lama just an opportunistic human being who is striving for fanfare and constant attentions for sole reason of stoking his insatiable ego? His child like giggling and public embracing of non-violence even while his native captured land Tibet was burning were disturbing to many of his Tibetan expatriates, some of whom see him as weak leader, whose compromise with China in not pursuing full independence for Tibet is condemned by many. Looking at these graphic images and videos from Tibet's recent turmoils where unknown numbers of Tibetans were killed, maimed or simply disappeared can raise questions on Dalai Lama's apparent ineffectiveness.

Despite this apparently minor discontents among his Tibetan expatriates, ""Virtually all Tibetans have the Dalai in their hearts.” And the more that their economic prospects and traditional culture are undermined by Han Chinese immigration, the more this long-distance reverence is likely to grow."

Why is Dalai Lama more conforming to China's rule while China openly calls him an instigator? Here is one explanation:
"In his view, Tibet needs good neighborly relations with China: “One nation’s problems can no longer be satisfactorily solved by itself alone,” he has said. He bravely promotes “universal responsibility” to people who want to be citizens of their own country before they start thinking about the universe."
Here is another quote from Pankaj Mishra's article in The New Yorker:
"As the Dalai Lama sees it, countries must pursue their interests without harming those of others, and Tibetan independence, in addition to being an unrealistic ideal, needlessly antagonizes Beijing. This stance has failed, however, to convince the Chinese that he is not a “splittist”; they have accused him of having “masterminded” the latest disturbances. It has also made many Tibetans suspect that what makes the Dalai Lama more likable in the West—mainly, his commitment to nonviolence, reiterated during the current crisis—makes him appear weak to the Chinese."
Dalai Lama's immense popularity in the West is due to his simplifying Buddhist teachings that can be accessible to mostly secular minded Western audiences. "But the gentrification of an ancient and often difficult philosophy has not been achieved without some loss of intellectual rigor."

Pankaj Mishra's concluding remarks on Dalai Lama demands careful reading:
Avidly embracing the liberating ideas of the secular metropolis, the Dalai Lama resembles the two emblematic types who have shaped the modern age, for better and for worse—the provincial fleeing ossified custom and the refugee fleeing totalitarianism. Even so, his critics may have a point: the Dalai Lama’s citizenship in the global cosmopolis seems to come at a cost to his dispossessed people.
However, like the widely popular song of John Lennon's "Imagine", for the wider world, "imagine the Dalai Lama as something of an intellectual and spiritual adventurer, exploring fresh sources of individual identity and belonging in the newly united world."

Link to The New Yorker article on Dalai Lama:
Holy Man: What does the Dalai Lama actually stand for?

Food Recipe

I find the vegetable soup recipe published in Yahoo today is easy to follow and cook. Here is the link:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

An exercise that'll work several muscle groups

This exercise published in Los Angeles Times can be done at home, only two dumbbells are needed. Quoting from LA Times:
"Step 1 Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your right leg in front of your left leg. Bend your right knee, maintaining a straight back. Starting with your arms down, lean forward with your upper body and bend your arms, bringing your hands near your ears. Extend your arms fully until they are overhead. Pause."

"Step 2 Stay in this forward lean-lunge position as you slowly lower your straight arms toward the floor and then lift them up to the back as far as you can. Concentrate on pulling your navel toward the spine to support your back muscles throughout the exercise. Repeat three times, step together and repeat with your left leg in front."

Image sources are the following links:

The Inside Drama Behind The Time's Warrantless Wiretapping Story

"the episode was critical in reflecting the media's shifting attitudes toward matters of national security—from believing the government to believing it less."
Comparing to only a few years before, media apparently is raising more unpalatable questions, some of these questions would have been considered perhaps treasonous in fear gripped nation. Slowly, but surely, craftily placed fog of fear has started to fading away, and through the clear daylight, truth that may be unpleasant, have only begun to stir from willful suppression and political fabrication. Here is an article taken from a recently published book discusses the pull and push from opposing forces of ideologies, one is for keeping the status quo of contemporary fear-mongering intact, and the other for preserving freedom of press that has been brutally thwarted in frenzied days of pre-fascism. The battle is far from over.

Click here to read Slate's article.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hope and the Universality of Human Imperfection

Unlike many other immensely popular writers, James Carroll is not a household name. Perhaps his books are not on the echelon of best seller lists, nor he comes frequently in news media for scandalous wisdom. Each week his one column gets published in The Boston Globe, and each of them brings observations so deep and profound that for a careful reader his words, metaphors and painstaking presentations of reality in crisp but penetrating language are like a "golden compass" that may guide a "lost soul" from indirection to "destiny".

This week James Carroll writes about imperfection that relates to human hope and universality. Here are a few memorable quotes from this must read article:

"People who benefit from an imperfect power structure speak warmly of love, while those who suffer from it angrily demand justice.

But the deeper question goes to the human condition itself: In our unending quest for a better world, how do we deal with the inevitably flawed character of every society, and of every citizen? How does each of us deal, that is, with the inevitable complicity of our leadership - our preachers, our politicians - in what ails society? How do we deal with our own complicity?

One answer has been denial."

Self denial is the single most powerful tool available for us the imperfect mortals, that brings the necessary convenience in overlooking all the grotesque misdeeds, injustice, discriminations and even blatant criminality performed by our fellow human beings, or even our own complicity in the participation of mutilation of our self proclaimed upright senses for the sake of comfortable delusion, these are all part of our boasted humanity!

When the leaders are chosen by people, hopes for a better world are bestowed on these leaders in the hope that they are wise and will make correct decisions. However, "The empowered may begin as wise rulers, philosopher kings or benign dictators, but their governance inevitably shows itself to be totalitarian. Every command society assumes that some individual - or some collective - is capable of perfection, while the mass of ordinary people are not. This construct defines, say, the "dictatorship of the proletariat," with absolute power exercised by the Communist Party, but it also points to the universal human tendency to assume that the holders of power are better than others."

Here is the link to James Carroll's article:
Hope and the universality of human imperfection

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Free Spirited Wonderer

“She gave us a very broad understanding of the world,” her daughter said. “She hated bigotry. She was very determined to be remembered for a life of service and thought that service was really the true measure of a life.”

Above quote is about Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro, who "felt that somehow, wandering through uncharted territory, we might stumble upon something that will, in an instant, seem to represent who we are at the core,” said Maya Soetoro-Ng, Mr. Obama’s half-sister. “That was very much her philosophy of life — to not be limited by fear or narrow definitions, to not build walls around ourselves and to do our best to find kinship and beauty in unexpected places.”

The more I read about this gracious woman who died in 1995 from cancer, the more aura of this kind hearted human being becomes clearer, who was a "free spirited wonderer", who "married an African student at age 18. Then she married an Indonesian, moved to Jakarta, became an anthropologist, wrote an 800-page dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Java, worked for the Ford Foundation, championed women’s work and helped bring microcredit to the world’s poor."

Janny Scott's article "A Free Spirited Wonderer Who Set Obama's Path" in The New York Times is a good read.

Carl Sagan Speaks

Video Link:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Surf, Sand, and Shipwrecks

We were huddled, as if for warmth, each with hands hidden in pockets, heads inclined, an accidental posture of prayer. Our awed silence was as striking to me as the object of our contemplation, and I realized that our long-gone humanoid ancestors had come into self-awareness precisely in such circles of meditation. "There are two kinds of skippers," an old Maine lobsterman said to me once. "Them that's run aground. And them that's gonna."
Even a simple solitary walk on the winter beach by James Carroll provides a glimpse in humane universality, tied in one common destination of mortality.

To behold a shipwreck is to stand before the common fate of every living thing, but to behold it in the company of fellow humans is to stand with the only other creatures who know what it means. Therefore - intimacy. Awe and trembling. Acceptance. Gratitude. It was not the walk on the beach I set out for, but it was the one I wanted.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Keith Olbermann: Special Comment on Hillary Clinton

Keith Olbermann doesn't endorse either Clinton or Obama, but he is clear in his condemnation on "bitter" comment by Ferraro, pointing to Hilary that she is acting like a "Republican" not like a "Democrat". Democrats are seem to be tearing themselves apart, while main beneficiaries are Republican McCain sharpening his tone and words for the Fall campaign against the potentially weak democrat.

Video Link:

10 Emerging Technologies 2008

MIT's 10 Emerging Technologies in 2008 delves into some really magnificent technologies, giving us peak to not so distant future. Click on the link below to check out the list:

Technology Review: 10 Emerging Technologies 2008