Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Current Situation...and a Few Comments about Stuff I've seen on the 'net

So presently I'm rather, um...busy.   I could blog a whole lot about the American Western Buddhist take on Egypt (though the fascinating thing to me, as a guy who's in the demographic to which I belong, the fascinating  thing is "following the money" in that saga.)  I could  - and might - finish blogging the Lankavatara Sutra - I've not much more to go in it, and it would be good to finish it.  But ...I'm still rather busy.

While I might possibly find the "Holy cow I've got to blog this!" bit on the 'net, or some deep thing in life with which to write,  truth be told, there are too many things to do right now,  and likely will be for a couple of weeks or so.   My intention then is to cut back a bit on blogging, simply because of time constraints.  Likely you might not see posts from me regularly on Monday, Wednesday & Friday for the time being.  

But I do want to make some assorted comments about stuff I've seen on the 'net today:

“There seems to be a whole substitute morality, where your obligation is to go to the gym and not ask why,” says Mark Greif, a founding editor of the literary journal n+1 and the author of a widely discussed 2004 essay, “Against Exercise.” “If you don’t, you become a sort of villain of the culture.”
The message that perspiration is a gateway to, and reflection of, higher virtues is captured in health club slogans like ones used by the Equinox chain over recent years: “Results aren’t always measured in pounds and inches.” “My body. My biography.” “It’s not fitness. It’s life.” The same idea is encoded in the language of personal improvement. A “new you” usually means a trimmer, tauter version, not someone who has learned to speak Mandarin or picked up woodworking skills.
           It appears to me that this is typical Times-positioning: sounding like unconventional wisdom but
           really  reflecting middlebrow sensibilities here.  Look,  I'll admit it: I'm a guy in the 6th percentile
           of my age group in Body Mass Index. Yeah, you read that right.  94% of people my age have
           a higher BMI than I do.   And if one goes through BMI tables as a function of
           age,  there is an inescapable fact that emerges: obese people die earlier than the non-obese. 
          Also, I discovered I like swimming.    And I don't feel guilty about it; oh, sure I wish I could
          do more but that's not the point of doing it; it's a mindfulness practice that's fun.  And it keeps
           me  in shape. And I'm continuing to improve my foreign language and technical and other skills,
           thank you very much.

  • In terms of the coverage of the Egyptian situation, I'm looking for several things:
    • How American media compares with international media.  CNN has been particularly risible in this regard.
    • How the American government is discussing the situation publicly, and whether or not they have any idea of how their words are being interpreted by others, particularly in the Arab world..  It shocked me that Vice president Biden couldn't bring himself to say Mubarak is a dictator.  Joe: Mubarak is a dictator. We can't afford to prop up dictators these days. 
    • How the crisis is being translated into business propaganda.   Somebody's going to make tremendous amounts of money in this.  They already have.  There was a big drop in US markets on Friday because of "fears that the Egyptian crisis would result in the closure of the Suez canal," which would disrupt oil shipments.   Yeah, you got that right.  Now consider: do you honestly think that whoever replaces Mubarak, even the most lunatic raving America hating Islamic fundamentalist is going to shut down a chief source of funding for the country?   People who have money in Egypt will be happy to see Mubarak go, simply because the next guys might ask for less in the way of bribes and kickbacks.  You read it here first: life - and business - will go on after Mubarak.   In the US, there's an exchange trade fund related to Egyptian markets, helpfully using the symbol "EGPT."   I wouldn't buy it yet, but I might be tempted to buy it this week.  Yeah, yeah, this is a Buddhist blog, but it's a Buddhist blog of a guy who has to plan his retirement two decades in advance.
  • This article by Alex Mar in Salon captures something that I thought was true for years, but never wrote or spoke of: Exorcism movies are conservative propaganda.  You want your demons to leave? Well, if you're a Buddhist, you might eventually take the position of Rilke; exorcism would cast out your angels as well as your demons.. Or, you might not think so much about angels and demons at all.  I generally don't.  As I wrote above, I'm busy.

I've got really Buddhist-y things to do, such as sit, and family practice.   I wish that your day be filled with harmony.

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