Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Worst Since WW2

to continue the happy vibes from the last post... this one is for the new year.

had a dinner party last night and there was someone who works as camera man for the UN, just arriving in Berlin a few hours earlier, after being stationed in various parts of Africa for the past 8 years: mainly Uganda, Rwanda, and for the past 4 years, Congo.

a few hours before he got on the plane (i guess the day before yesterday?), a church where 400 children and some adult refugees were hiding was discovered by rival faction soldiers, and all 400+ were hacked to pieces with machetes, and thrown into the river.

a normal occurance, just another day.

i knew that things have always been bad since (and before) the beginning of the second Congolese war, and after its "end", and that there have been recent escalations of violence, but i did know just how bad.

he told of child soldiers aged 7 to 17, acting in groups of 6 to a dozen: the oldest would be the leader, and the job of the youngest was to carry the cut off hands and feet of dead enemies. they would return to base at night, and would take out the body parts to show the commanders, like "here are 12 pieces, look how well we did." hoping to get a promotion, and/or more food, more drugs.

regularly he documents the aftermath of a battle, with hundreds of bodies strewn about, sometimes having been left in the sun for weeks. and on several occasions run ins with child soldiers, and having the nozzle of an AK47 shoved into his face, and the cold, empty, inhuman eyes of a 10 year old staring into his own.

the drug of choice for these children is a mix of heroin, sometimes cocaine, cut with gunpowder as an extender, mixed with a bit of water. the method of intake is to soak a piece of cotton with the mixture, and insert it into a slit cut into a cheek on the face, sealed by a bandage -- this way the dope slowly and steadily enters the bloodstream, and lasts all day, as they go out and do their thing. (not sure why the face is used and not, say, inner thigh).

he told of millions of people who have been moving from refugee camp to refugee camp, often several times a year, for the past decade or more. the lucky ones have a single cooking pot that they carry with them on top of the head. at each camp, they are given a piece of plastic and some wood/branches, with which they build a small tent/shelter, after clearing the ground of rocks with their hands.

the main objective for the many different factions, is of course to dominate pieces of land rich with mineral and other resources, mainly diamonds and the stuff that goes in cell phones. gaining control of territory and setting up mines can mean billions of dollars for the war lords -- every cell phone in the world has a piece from those regions, and every diamond -- the global economy is directly connected with what is happening.

"talk about 'how the other half lives'", he said.

some Congolese Rumba came on my randomized itunes play list, and he told of the smiles immediately lighting up African faces when they hear music, and immediately getting up to dance: it is the only good thing in life. and "similar to the culture of fashionable men with starving families who support their obsession with haute couture: entire villages will celebrate if someone brought back a Comme des Garçons jacket from Brussels -- it is one of the only happy things in their lives".

he told of a Dutch artist who made a project called "Enjoy Poverty", which involved him traveling around various parts and trying to explain to the local photographers how much the foreign journalists would make from a single photo of their misery, and that if they did the same...

the UN has called these wars and conflicts the "worst since WW2", and it doesn't even make headlines in the west or east.

someone threw out an equation, something like 100 African deaths = 10 Middle Eastern deaths = 1 European death to the news media.

and someone else commented that when he hears the endless reports about the Gaza strip and the jews vs. arabs thing, he's just like "shut the fuck up already." adding "of course there are many socio economic geo political reasons for the focus on the conflict in that region, but we need to balance it out a little bit with reports of things like what is happening in places like Congo.

"what is the answer to the question asked by a first world citizen: 'what can i do to help'?" "the only one is Not Much". of course there are cosmetic things one can do, but it can not amount to much of anything in the face of this kind of pandemic suffering. and most people really devoted to the cause, who volunteer in these places, soon see their own lives fall apart...
for me, any concept of "right" and "wrong" and justice and morality just fall apart like a house of cards in a tornado when i consider this, and especially how it is directly connected to the life of obscene luxury that i live.

had a hard time sleeping last night and am crying as i type this.

Monday, December 29, 2008

American Violence

started watching DeadWood this week between christmas and new years and i must say it's a pretty entertaining little vitual bubble to get sucked into. characters are strong and although cliched, believeable; story engaging... if ultimately pointless, at least it doesn't shrink away from straight forward depictions of the real stuff America is founded upon: greed, inequality, complete disregard for human rights/life, and violence without flinching or remorse.

to the show's writers' credit, there was even mention of "Rough and Tumble", a specific style of early American sport fighting, in which the opponents gouge eyes out, tear lips off with teeth, and rip the gentials off, etc.

seems like in many ways an integral part of the "southern ethic" and early American experience, but so dark, so disturbing, and so embarrassing that it is altogether swept under the rug. i think it is important to know about this stuff, in relation to the particular American fascination and relationship to violence, and a specific set of social values, which to this day in some way shapes everything from film-making to politics.

the following is a chilling artile, but fascinating in terms of social history and anthropology.

"Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch:" The Social Significance of Fighting in the Southern Backcountry
a historical account and sociological study from 18th Century on.

a few excerpts:

... a man’s role in the all-male society was defined less by his ability as a breadwinner than by his ferocity. The touchstone of masculinity was unflinching toughness, not chivalry, duty, or piety."

"The southern ethic anticipated human evil, tolerated ethical lapses, and accepted the finitude of man in contrast to the new style that demanded unprecedented moral rectitude and internalized self-restraint."

"The lower classes are the most abject that, perhaps, ever peopled a Christian land. They live in the woods and deserts and many of them cultivate no more land than will raise them corn and cabbages, which, with fish, and occasionally a piece of pickled pork or bacon, are their constant food'. Their habitations are more wretched than can be conceived; the huts of the poor of Ireland, or even the meanest Indian wigwam, displaying more ingenuity and greater industry." [EN22] Despite their degradation - perhaps because of it - Janson found the poor whites extremely jealous of their republican rights and liberties. They considered themselves the equals of their best-educated neighbors and intruded on whomever they chose. [EN23] The gouging match this fastidious Englishman witnessed in Georgia was the epitome of lower-class depravity:

We found the combatants' fast clinched by the hair, and their thumbs endeavoring to force a passage into each other's eyes; while several of the bystanders were betting upon the first eye to be turned out of its socket. For some time the combatants avoided the thumb stroke with dexterity. At length they fell to the ground, and in an instant the uppermost sprung up with his antagonist's eye in his hand!!! The savage crowd applauded, while, sick with horror, we galloped away from the infernal scene. The name of the sufferer was John Butler, a Carolinian, who, it seems, had been dared to the combat by a Georgian; and the first eye was for the honor of the state to which they respectively belonged.

Janson concluded that even Indian "savages" and London's rabble would be outraged by the beastly Americans."

"The battle began - size and power on the Kentuckian's side, science and craft on the Virginian's. They exchanged cautious throws and blows, when suddenly the Virginian lunged at his opponent with a panther's ferocity. The crowd roared its approval as the fight reached its violent denouement:

The shock received by the Kentuckyan, and the want of breath, brought him instantly to the ground. The Virginian never lost his hold; like those bats of the South who never quit the subject on which they fasten until they taste blood, he kept his knees in his enemy's body; fixing his claws in his hair, and his thumbs on his eyes, gave them an instantaneous start from their sockets. The sufferer roared aloud, but uttered no complaint. The citizens again shouted with joy. Doubts were no longer entertained and bets of three to one were offered on the Virginian.

But the fight continued. The Kentuckian grabbed his smaller opponent and held him in a tight bear hug, forcing the Virginian to relinquish his facial grip. Over and over the two rolled, until, getting the Virginian under him, the big man "snapt off his nose so close to his face that no manner of projection remained." The Virginian quickly recovered, seized the Kentuckian's lower lip in his teeth, and ripped it down over his enemy's chin. This was enough: "The Kentuckyan at length gave out, on which the people carried off the victor, and he preferring a triumph to a doctor, who came to cicatrize his face, suffered himself to be chaired round the ground as the champion of the times, and the first rougher-and-tumbler. The poor wretch, whose eyes were started from their spheres, and whose lip refused its office, returned to the town, to hide his impotence, and get his countenance repaired." The citizens refreshed themselves with whiskey and biscuits, then resumed their races."

"I’m a salt River roarer! I’m a ring tailed squealer! I’m a regular screamer from the old Massassip! Whoop! I’m the very infant that refused his milk before its eyes were open and called out for a bottle of old Rye! I love the women and I’m chockful o’ fight! I’m half wild horse and half cock-eyed alligator and the rest o’ me is crooked snags an’ red-hot snappin’ turtle…. I can out-run, out-jump, out shout, out-brag, out-drink, an’ out-fight, rough-an’-tumble, no holts barred, any man on both sides the river from Pittsburgh to New Orleans an’ back ag’in to St. Louiee. Come on, you flatters, you bargers, you milk white mechanics, an’ see how tough I am to chaw! I ain’t had a fight for two days an’ I’m spilein’ for exercise. Cock-a-doodle-doo!"

"Davy Crockett coolly boasted, 'I kept my thumb in his eye, and was just going to give it a twist and bring the peeper out, like taking a gooseberry in a spoon.'"

and if you want to take classes and train in this style of fighting, The American Rough and Tumble Society is right in Santa Monica, California, where i have lived before. NOTE: this link is not working any more. i guess this last vestige has vanished?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Against Human Nature

it does not exist. there is no such thing.

and any case for it, one way or another, can only be attributed to, motivated by, and stink of agendas related to ideology to which the person making the case subscribes. Marxists say humans are good for one set of reasons, and christians say humans are evil for another set of reasons -- but both only seek to further their cause with these fictional claims.

while i truly believe, without a single doubt in my mind, that humans are not inherently anything -- that we are adaptable to any condition, malleable under all circumstance, and each one of us are capable of behaving in a million ways, from saintly compassion to horrifying cruelty. if any one of us is groomed and educated and trained, we can become a spiritual leader, and if we are mal treated and abused enough, can become a serial killer.

a misguided soul remarked once that humans are inherently selfish, because if there was one piece of bread left and 4 people are starving, they would all want it for themselves. well i'm certainly impressed because a leap across the gap in logic of this proportion truly requires extraordinary levels of stupidity. if people are put in desperate situations, they will behave desperately. sure, and if these same 4 people had all taken ecstasy 2 hours before they would be laughing and hugging eachother -- what is the point? circular logic like this is for the birds.

of course a certainly level of "free willie" and "personal choice" exists, but its importance compared to the shaping circumstances in which people find themselves have ALWAYS BEEN GROSSLY EXAGGERATED. "nature" is privileged in our art and thinking over "nurture" for several reasons: 1. it is easy: "this person is good, this person is bad" -- like in the movies. 2. it appeals to the romantic notion of fundamental individual differences and uniqueness 3. it allows the comfortable and well to do to feel self righteous: "i've never committed a crime because i'm good, and not because i come from a perfect family and i've never needed to" 4. it upholds the illusion of personal "freedom" - and we prefer to think of our lives as autonomous and our choices our own, and not dictated by circumstance. but reality, when examined by a sober and rational mind, seems obvious: that environment dictate much much more the shape of our lives than we like to admit.

and there is a 5th reason: that the structure of much of our bullshit society of lies will crumble if people stop thinking like this ---- just think of the "justice system" ---- which i'd like to point out once and for all, is not "flawed" as much as it is fundamentally absurd and cruel.

of course there are countless exceptions but if you grow up poor and neglected from a broken family in a squalid part of town, the chances of you becoming a criminal is exponentially greater than if you were born in the royal family. i don't see how anyone with half a brain not permanently damaged by doctrine can argue with this.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


a massive collection: 2,300 pieces, 3 GB.

thanks very, very, very, very, very, very, very much to who ever uploaded this.

rapidshare download links here

a happy pre-holiday for those who appreciate.

i was thinking about the caligraphy and the name-stamps on these paintings.

one way to see them is that they get in the way of the image, of the view of the picture. but another way, which is how i think the ancients saw it, is that it reinforces the "object-ness" of the piece of art. that it was not desireable to produce a perfect illusion -- after all, what is the point to represent already breath-taking reality? i think these artists were masters of abstraction, and well aware that what they were making was a "thing" (piece of rice paper); making an object according to its own "laws", following its own logic; and that its resemblance to the actual world is almost inconsequential.

so what you end up with is poetry, is abstraction; based on "impressions" of the world, but not amenable to it.

for all my musings on the continuity between "east" and "west", there certainly did develop, over time, distinctly different approaches to seeing, and very different relationships to nature.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Science and Religion

the trendy religion-hating among "progressives" bent on blaming all of humanity's ills on spiritual practices world wide, while naming science as some kind of infallible way forward, is a view equally myopic, a position just as simple/closed-minded and solipsistic as those of the ignorant fundamentalist freaks these rationalists rail against.

i am very much convinced that one of, if not THE, foundational causes making everything so royally fucked is that the world is too "rational". traditional chinese medicine has maintained that the world is too "yang" (the light part); and indeed, most of the serious problems we face as a species are by-products of the industrial/technological age of 20th and 19th century. this is pretty much irrefutable. isn't it clear that the results of too much "logic" and "order" and ego and power and law and repression can only be disastrous? (military-industrial complex is pretty much the apex of rationalism, is it not?)

no, what we need more of in the world is not more order, rigidity, anal retention. what we need more of is empathy, connection, intuition, mystery, sensuality. which is NOT institutional, organized religion. the Church (of which ever faith), for all its absurd anti-rationalism, actually operates according to the bureacratic rigidity of the hyper-rational, hierarchical, corporate/government model based on domination and subjugation.

what we need, is what organized religion is a corrupt bastardization of: the return of a much, much older de-centered, non-hierarchical, non-patriarchal spirituality. and with it, social organizing principals based on localized, perhaps mobile, closely knit, self reliant and self sustainable communities.

i should probably get a medal of some kind for solving all the world's problems in about 300 words.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Deep Roots

what little i know about revisionist history and the fictional divide between "east" and "west":

during the first half of Greek empire everything came from Egypt and Persia: food, music, technology, philosphy, mathematics, astronomy, religion, medicine, fashion, etc, etc, etc, etc. and it was not until the second part of the empire that the Greeks started coming up with their own ideas - and even then, very much influenced and inspired by Egyptian, Semitic, South Asian (Indian), Middle Eastern (Iranian), and East Asian (Chinese) thought and practice.

the myth that Greece developed more or less by itself, as the beginning of "progressive" and "modern" "western" civilization, was largely a product of 19th century racist revisions of history. German and English scholars began erasing Egypt and Semitic cultures out of history; and in America powerful industrialists apply sweeping education reforms across America, firing professors that did not tell their version of the story, and installing yes-men that propagated the idea that "the West" was something different, and of different origions, from "the East".

the propagation of this fictional dichotomy between the "occident" and "orient" has always been politically motivated, provides a foundation for racism, distrust, and divide which furthers the aims of the ruling elite -- and is still instrumental today (the structural basis for "the war on terror", which also may be seen as the latest expression of these false ideas)

much of this train of excavations can be found in this book, derided by the ignorant and the brain-washed (just look at the ratings and comments on amazon):

from Amazon:

What is classical about Classical Civilization? In one of the most audacious works of scholarship ever written, Martin Bernal challenges the whole basis of our thinking about this question. Classical civilization, he argues, has deep roots in Afroasiatic cultures. But these Afroasiatic influences have been systematically ignored, denied, or supressed since the eighteenth century--chiefly for racist reasons. The popular view is that Greek civilization was the result of the conquest of a sophisticated but weak native population by vigorous Indo-European speakers--or Aryans--from the North. But the Classical Greeks, Bernal argues, knew nothing of this "Aryan model." They did not see their political institutions, science, philosophy, or religion as original, but rather as derived from the East in general, and Egypt in particular. Black Athena is a three-volume work. Volume 1 concentrates on the crucial period between 1785 and 1850, which saw the Romantic and racist reaction to the Enlightment and the French Revolution, and the consolidation of Northern expansion into other continents. In an unprecedented tour de force, Bernal makes meaningful links between a wide range of areas and disciplines--drama poetry, myth, theological controversy, esoteric religion, philosophy, biography, language, historical narrative, and the emergence of "modern scholarship."

Could Greek philosophy be rooted in Egyptian thought? Is it possible that the Pythagorean theory was conceived on the shores of the Nile and the Euphrates rather than in ancient Greece? Could it be that much of Western civilization was formed on the "Dark Continent"? For almost two centuries, Western scholars have given little credence to the possibility of such scenarios.
In Black Athena, an audacious three-volume series that strikes at the heart of today's most heated culture wars, Martin Bernal challenges Eurocentric attitudes by calling into question two of the longest-established explanations for the origins of classical civilization. To use his terms, the Aryan Model, which is current today, claims that Greek culture arose as the result of the conquest from the north by Indo-European speakers, or "Aryans," of the native "pre-Hellenes." The Ancient Model, which was maintained in Classical Greece, held that the native population of Greece had initially been civilized by Egyptian and Phoenician colonists and that additional Near Eastern culture had been introduced to Greece by Greeks studying in Egypt and Southwest Asia. Moving beyond these prevailing models, Bernal proposes a Revised Ancient Model, which suggests that classical civilization in fact had deep roots in Afroasiatic cultures.

This long-awaited third and final volume of the series is concerned with the linguistic evidence that contradicts the Aryan Model of ancient Greece. Bernal shows how nearly 40 percent of the Greek vocabulary has been plausibly derived from two Afroasiatic languages--Ancient Egyptian and West Semitic. He also reveals how these derivations are not limited to matters of trade, but extended to the sophisticated language of politics, religion, and philosophy. This evidence, according to Bernal, greatly strengthens the hypothesis that in Greece an Indo-European-speaking population was culturally dominated by Ancient Egyptian and West Semitic speakers. Provocative, passionate, and colossal in scope, this volume caps a thoughtful rewriting of history that has been stirring academic and political controversy since the publication of the first volume.

About the Author
Martin Bernal, formerly a fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and professor of Government and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University, is now retired.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Many More Sides of Tibet

people always knee-jerk assume I'm pro-China when i mention the realities in Tibet. and it is understandable, for when Chinese people cite the horrible pre 1956 conditions or Dalai's association with SS officers, is is usually in service of a pro-China agenda.

let's make one thing clear: i hate the chinese government and CCP more than any other living soul. everyone in my parent's genereation were traumatized by the persecutions of the cultural revolution... i feel the effects of the brutality and inhuman acts of those years immediately prior to my birth to this very day -- my family has been in many ways shattered by it, and has never healed.

but even with that in mind, shouting stupid slogans in ignorance of what they mean (like Bjork does) is not helpful to anyone - least of all Tibetans.

now to address a few particular points. recently a friend of mine said

"we should ask Tibetans what they want - and all the ones there i have talked to said they want their Lamas"

at the risk of sounding patronizing, it is important nonetheless to consider the education system under the rule of the monks: all buddhism, zero anything else. so of COURSE Tibetans want their Lamas, because THAT IS THE ONLY THING THEY KNOW.

as much as i immensely value a drastically different world view from the way I was raised, because i do believe that there are amazing and unspeakable truths, understandings, and experiences which are unique fruits of a spiritual practice such as Tibetan Buddhism --- the value of a well rounded education can NOT be underestimated -- and this has been but entirely deprived of Tibetans by their Lamas. and of course this would be perfectly acceptable and the rule of the Lamas would be peaceful and just and prosperous except... except it's not and never was. actually quite the contrary as we have seen from these articles:

the Dark Ages before the Chinese came: an elite owned all of the land, and serfs who labored under them with not a penny to gain. not more than slaves with no freedom, owned by their masters. debt was passed down from generation to generation, and those who tried to run away were brutally beaten. yes, indeed, torture was common place - hands chopped off for stealing, tongues cut for lying, eyes gouged out for betrayal.

last week i met with a friend who was a "Tibetologist" for 20+ years, who has traveled there on many occasions, and have had significant interaction with Tibetan people and monks, who rightfully claim inside knowledge, assures me that there is not merely 2 sides to the coin, but it's more like a tetrahedral die (like those used in role playing games). so, a brief run down of things glimpsed from this man's knowledge:

• Tibet was itself headed toward the direction of modernization around the time the Chinese invaded in the 1950s. but no one can say how that would have went with the conflicts that would have surely arisen.

• Chinese certainly did build infrastructure during occupation, but not with Tibetans in mind -- for its own ends of establishing trade route.

• many Tibetans did welcome the Chinese as agents of change, but after 10 years life did not get better for them under Chinese rule, and in some cases, even worse -- Tibetans, just like the Chinese people themselves, were subject to many of the disastrous policies of the CCP.

• it was not until much later, 1970s or 80s, when Chinese efforts in Tibet yielded some positive results.

• corruption certainly existed and exists in the theocracy of the monks, where inequality, injustice is common place, many recorded accounts of bribery, abuse of power, sexual abuse, etc.

• many attempts have been made in recent history to address the gap between western perception and realities in Tibet, such as many conferences with leading scholars which were well attended, and best selling books on the subject, but nothing seems to fundamentally shake the false conviction of most who simply WANT to believe in a mythical paradisal Shangri La, even when confronted with irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

• India never had a problem with border until Chinese took over - since then they have had to pour a ton of money into defense, almost bankrupting them.

• in current events it is very stupid for the Chinese government to blame the Dalai for instigating anti-China protests, for he acts more than anything else as a mediator and peace keeper, without whom the anti-China sentiments would become more heated.

so... what conclusion can we possibly draw from all of these disparate facts? the answer is i have NO IDEA.

but someone just said this:

Heres a simple question:

Do you support national self determination - that is, the idea that those who live in a country or region have the right to decide on their own future free from outside interference?

If the answer is yes in relation to Europe, the middle East or wherever, then its yes for everywhere.

sometimes it's good to have someone cut through all the butter with a hot knife. i guess on some level it is as simple as that.

my answer is of course yes.

the chinese should get the fuck out (not happening anytime soon though).

but also the world needs to stop projecting it's own spiritual privation on this country full of poor folks who have been suffering for way too long.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Other Side of Tibet / Other Side of Lama

those who know me know that i have a personal relationship with Tibetan teachings and ideas and much love and respect for the amazing bodies of knowledge to be found in spiritual traditions in Tibet. I have seen the Dalai Lama in person, and heard him speak. he is a great spirit, a great man and a great leader, who has given the world much wonderful things, and have done much good for his people and people of the world.

but there is another side. a seriously disturbing and deeply problematic one. a side that is rarely talked about.

following are 2 episodes from a radio program called For The Record which deals with fascism in all its manifestations (and in the past has focused on fascist elements within Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Zionism, etc )-- google the author -- i have no doubt that this information is reliable. (there are many other fascinating episodes if you wish to explore further)

there are surely many ways to view this material, but one thing which is for sure is i believe it is very important to consider this information, especially in these times. it is also important to point out here that it does NOT follow that i support the Chinese government or the Communist Party (actually quite the opposite).

the main questions i have after absorbing some of this is: what would it mean for Tibetans to "Free Tibet"? what would complete Tibet independence mean for the lives of its citizens? would it mean a plunge back into the dark-ages? abject poverty with no hope of anything better? a back-wards and brutal theocracy which enslaves the citizens? a country with almost zero infrastructure, very poor sanitation and health care? how to weigh the benefits and efforts to modernize and build infrastructure in Tibet by the Chinese against their oppressive rule and human rights violations? for there are certainly 2 sides to the coin, unlike mainstream western media would like us to believe.

also, what about the Lama and his regime? what position to take in light of his shady (to say the least) dealings? should i simply take what is good for myself and ignore the rest? or... or what?

do not misunderstand me:


would be very much interested to hear if anyone knows more and how you look at it.

Hell-o Dalai

This program begins a lengthy examination of the Dalai Lama’s association with a covert-action milieu, much of it fascist and associated with the Underground Reich. In addition to the Dalai Lama’s collaboration with Islamist and secular Pan-Turkist separatist elements in Xinjiang province of China, the Nobel Peace Prize winner has maintained close connections over a period of decades with SS officers, some of them war criminals.

Introducing the subject of the Nazi SS’s fascination with Tibet and its exploration of that country, the program presents an account of the 1938 SS expedition to Lhasa.

full program with real streaming

Tibet or not Tibet

at the beginning of this one dude rambles a bit, sorry about that. but it's over in like 15 minutes or maybe 20, and then he gets to the nitty gritty - a picture of Tibet far from the idealistic Shangri-La of popular imagination:

Tibet was anything but the earthly paradise the Dalai Lama and his associates claim that it was. In point of fact, Tibet was a brutal, theocratic feudal society, presided over by the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhist prelates. Much of the population were serfs—actually little more than slaves. They had no rights to speak of, and were bound to the land owned by the religious leaders. Even the smallest of offenses was punished with extreme brutality—grisly torture was routine.

Addressing a cognitive consideration central to grasping the enormous gap between the public perception of the Dalai Lama and the unsavory reality of his political connections and religious practices

full program with real streaming

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

COLLAPSE by Jared Diamond

i normally dont share things that are commercially available, but this is just too important of a work, and i think it needs to be spread around as much as possible.

(trying not to sound corny or over-dramatic but don't know how else to put it: the survival of our species is on the line)

for those who don't know, it's a book about the collapse of past civilizations -- how societies choose to survive or shoot themselves in the throat. for instance the chapter on how the Vikings in Greenland all starved and froze to death after living there for 500 years is really interesting... and he says something like "before you start laughing at the vikings, should remember that they survived in Greenland longer than europeans have survived in N. America. another highlight is when societies in the Solomon Islands descended to cannibalism, a popular insult was "I pick pieces of your mother from my teeth"

i love audio books don't you just? (thanks to Chris for hooking it up)

one and two

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Truth vs. Lies

2 hours long lecture from ex-LAPD, ex-CIA turned political commentator and activist Mike Ruppert on the CIA dealing drugs, the Bush family, 9-11, etc. among others he interviews an ex-congress woman. and makes a compelling case for just how bottomless the evil runs.

no i do not think he is a conspiracy nut. he is the real thing.

the main picture i get is that America is not a place where there is some bad stuff happens behind closed doors -- but that it is a place where exceptions prove to be the rule: the country is indeed FOUNDED on vile criminality at the highest levels.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Worst Mistake Never Made (NEW LINK!)

as a follow up to the previous Jarred Diamond essay, here is a chapter of a cultural anthropology series focusing on the Dobe Ju/'hoansi bands of South Africa. one real living example among a number of other currently functioning micro societies which retain a form of social organization that most likely the vast majority of our ancestors utilized, for the vast majority of pre-history (a period of 300,000 to 3 million years, depending on who you ask -- but science keeps extending it).

a few main characteristics of Dobe Society:

• gather 70 percent of their food (roots, nuts, fruits, etc.)
• no hierarchy and no authority, only "temporary leaders"
• no private property
• work 20 hour weeks with only division of labour being between sexes
• does not distinquish between work and play
• zero starvation: 100% of population fed compared to 30% starving in the "civilized" world
• superb health

studying them has lead one sociologist to conclude that "scarcity is a myth", because the Dobe live in abundance 365 days a year. yet another has coined the term "Original Affluence" to describe Gatherer/Hunter lifestyle -- that is, if one measures affluence not by material possessions but free time.

here is the Gatherers and Hunters (not the other way around) chapter for your pleasure/scrutiny:

14 MB on Mediafire

this prof actually goes further than me the crazy, in conjecturing that the advent of agriculture and hierarchy and all that was actually the result of power itself and the evolution of human society, and not out of need which came with the resources reduction of the last "little ice-age" and/or population growth.