Archive for March, 2007

Who are ‘We’

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

The Vice President told the Republican Jewish Coalition that we will not pull out of Iraq early. This is not in itself surprising, but the way he said it is interesting.

“A sudden withdrawal of our coalition would dissipate much of the effort that has gone into fighting the global war on terror, and result in chaos and mounting danger,” the vice president declared. “And for the sake of our own security, we will not stand by and let it happen.” article

It makes me wonder who he refers to by ‘we’. I think that I am not part of that ‘we’. It is not my security that needs to be protected, and further staying in Iraq does not protect me from harm. It makes things worse.

When I hear that word, security, I don’t really think of physical safety. I think that he means in the sense of being secure. Secure in power, secure in sources of funding and secure in the structures that maintain those things. And, if he is talking to his allies, with all their political and economic goals about security, what it says to me is that he and they are feeling more insecure about it.
I like it. I want them to feel insecure about their hold on power. War is nasty and people who make money off of it are nasty too.

Check out Talking Points Memo, their muckrakers have good tools.

RIAA Council Gets It Handed to Them

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

So, I was reading slashdot this afternoon, and I saw this. It makes me happy to see a a good response to the RIAA tactics of using questionably legal court maneuvering to make it hard for the little guy.
My dad is a lawyer, and I guess that might be why I have always had a bit of a thing for law. Or maybe it is my desire to see things work out for people. I dunno.
At any rate, read the letter. It isn’t all that hard as far as legalese goes and it reminds me of how my favorite lawyers talk.

Wine and Bullets

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

I got Counter Strike working on my Linux laptop. So, now I can get my fix of being shot at by swearing 14 year-olds.
I am currently running Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu is indeed a word, unlike some other things like Mandriva. It comes from Africa and has something to do with choice, community and stuff. Or, at least that what the video of Nelson Mandela said.
If you didn’t notice, this post is slightly more random than normal.

It is midterms week and I am wee bit stressed and unfocused at the moment.

Next week I am going to Hokkaido. That’s the cold northern island for those of you who don’t deign to look at maps of Japan.
It should be cold. I might go skiing, I might not. Depends on how I feel.
My friend from highschool, Ryan lives there. He is teaching and stuff. We’ll probably hang out.

Regularly scheduled programming, in so far as it exists, will return after next week.

Story is Important

Friday, March 9th, 2007

You ever find yourself getting bored by a lecture about interesting things? Or had an interesting lecture about things that should be boring?

Often the difference between the two is story.

Our minds are designed to follow stories, and anecdotes. That is why more people read People than the Wall Street Journal(That and many people who should be interested in economics aren’t, but that’s another story). People presents its information as stories. Even the paparazzi picture captions have some elements of story. Compare this to typical dry economic articles and you see what I mean.
But, that is not a fair comparison. Economics can be a very compelling subject when it is presented properly. Freakonomics is a good example. It presents strange uses of economic principles to examine society. What’s cool about it though, is that it threads the data and analysis into short stories that are much more readable than an article in an economic journal.
Story, compelling story especially can be hard to develop from bare facts. But, if you can do it, your audience might remember some of your ideas.

See Garr Reynolds Presentation Zen Blog post for more info. Good, but desires changes further than I

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007 is an organization whose focus is to reduce the size of government, remove the IRS etc. They seem pretty libertarian in their goals.
I don’t agree with the lengths to which they want to take things, but I think that their commentary is on the money when it comes to what various bills do. So, I think that I will make their blog one of my regular political readings.

Does a dog have the Buddha-nature?

Bad Analogies

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

You ever find yourself trying to explain something to someone who has no background in what you’re talking about?
I think that Zen Masters feel your pain.
Today, in Zen we spent a fair bit of time trying to come up with analogies for the Sudden school’s view of gaining enlightenment. And, none of them work. Because most of our analogies dealt with learned skills, etc., we could not come up with a good one.
That might be one of the reasons Zen is so mystic. You can’t really explain it.
Still, the basic explanation of attaining enlightenment, in Zen, is that you are already a Buddha or Buddha-like. And, because of this, you don’t need to work on karma or practice anything in particular. You merely need to realize somehow. (more…)

Straight from the Bodhidarma’s Mouth

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Zen(or Ch’an if you prefer), in China, was started by Bodhidarma, a cool dude from India. Bodhidarma’s writings are interesting, mystic, and straight forward. And yet, after reading them I don’t feel like I understand Zen any better than I did before reading them. But, I guess that is the point. (more…)

Fencing in Namba

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

I went fencing again last night.
I fence epee, which is lucky for me because most of the people in the club do as well. Last semester, I tried looking for fencing practice, but I was still too worried about my Japanese skills. I started going to the Osaka Fencing club meetings 3 weekends ago on the off chance it would be fun. And, unsurprisingly, I enjoying myself.
The club is free, though it is a bit far from where I live.
I don’t have any of my fencing gear here, but I had my parents send it to my host families house. So, I have been using other people’s equipment. The club doesn’t really have any(it is free). But they do have some masks. The loaner masks are too small for my head and glasses, which made the first week a little difficult. But yesterday I wore my contacts and avoided that problem.
The other problem is that they are old masks and so the bib is really small. A proper mask should have enough bib to cover the neck effectively. I got hit in the throat last night and that hurt, probably more than it would have if I had a better mask. I wanna buy one, because my mask at home is getting old too and it would be nice to have a new one.
So, there is a fencing shop in Kyoto that I plan on visiting in the future.