Wed, Jun. 30th, 2010, 10:24 am
Question for Brits/historians/both
I'd like to read about World War II in England, particularly London during the Blitz. Where should I start? Can anyone name a couple of good titles suitable for reasonably well-educated non-historians?
Thu, Apr. 1st, 2010, 11:20 am
A question for fans of Nu Who
I've seen a lot of fics where the Doctor loses patience, throws Rose up against the TARDIS wall (not too hard), and has his way with her, to their mutual satisfaction. But are there any where the Doctor just sort of surrenders wearily to the attraction, and Rose has to lead him along? I'll take recommendations and also links to a Whofic-finding comm, if there is such a thing.
Thu, Sep. 3rd, 2009, 01:40 pm
Esperanto is useful
Mi vidas kion vi faras tie = I see what you do there.
Thu, Sep. 3rd, 2009, 10:40 am
The books of August
A Tibetan Buddhist Companion, ed. by Erik Pema Kunsang: A wonderful compilation of Tibetan Buddhist texts that I'm going to read over and over.
In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent: This recently published title turned out to be a lot of fun. The author began with an engaging account of getting interested in the Klingon-speaking Trek fan community and studying to gain first-level certification in the language. From there she goes on to eighteenth-century attempts to create a rational universal language that would mirror the structure of reality (as perceived by European philosophers of the day), international languages as a means to world peace (including the most successful of the lot, Esperanto), and constructed languages as art form (Tolkien's languages, Klingon, and other by-products of speculative fiction). It's been years since I read any current popular books on linguistics; I read Mario Pei's books over and over as a child, but they were written in the forties and fifties. Okrent is clear, funny, engaging, and ultimately sympathetic to Klingon speakers and all those for whom language is not merely a tool but an art form.
Teachings of the Earth by John Daido Loori: Dogen and other classic Zen masters on the wisdom of the earth and the wisdom of preserving the environment. I'll keep re-reading this one until I understand it.
Introduction to Tantra: The Transformation of Desire by Lama Thubten Yeshe, ed. by Johnathan Landaw: This is a wonderful clear and simple book on a profound and difficult topic. Say "Tantra" and most Westerners will think of languorous sacred sex play, but in Buddhism Tantra is one of many names for the accelerated methods of reaching enlightenment that include mantras, visualizing self as a deity, devotion to one's guru, and ultimately, under some conditions, engaging in sexual meditations with a partner. Lama Yeshe, one of the first Tibetans to teach Western students, comes across in this book and in people's reminiscences of him as a warm, funny, accessible, deeply compassionate and wise person. For grasping the basic principles of the accelerated method to buddhahood, I don't know a better place to start than this book.
Wizard's Holiday by Diane Duane: An enjoyable re-read. I'm delighted that she now has a publication date for the next book in the series; A Wizard of Mars is due in early 2010.
Maskerade by Terry Pratchett: This was my first Pratchett, and I enjoyed it a lot. It made a wonderful follow-up to watching the musical Phantom film and the classic black-and-white. Strangely enough, though, I did not actually run off and start reading all his other work. I think I'll get back to him eventually.
Tue, Sep. 1st, 2009, 02:04 pm
Me and Dharma
A couple of weeks ago, the founding lama
of my sangha
came into town for a visit. Besides leading us in so much sitting meditation that we started to feel we were Zen and not Tibetan, he gave a teaching on the Green Tara practice we commonly do (in which you visualize yourself as the buddha Tara
) and gave the bodhisattva vows. After hesitating back in May, when another of our visiting teachers gave them, I went ahead this time and took them.
Taking the bodhisattva vow means committing yourself to gaining enlightenment in order to help all other beings. In gaining the full flowering of human potential which is buddhahood, you become supremely able to help other beings, relieving their sufferings and leading them along the same path. I have come to believe very strongly that this is what the spiritual path is all about; that, as American Buddhist teacher Reggie Ray
says in his teachings on Tantra, seeking enlightenment or taking a spiritual path purely to benefit yourself does not work
I have not said much lately about my relationship to Buddhism, my practice of the Dharma. Partly this is because I feel like I've said too much, in the past, about my spiritual path and my pursuit of other teachings. I went against the basic reticence that I was imprinted with as an Episcopalian during my formative years. (It's kind of like Fight Club: The first rule of Anglican spirituality is that you do not talk about your own spirituality.)
But it's also because I don't wanna be an obnoxious asshole. When push comes to shove, I really do believe that Buddhism is The Answer, For Everyone--that it is the best religion, maybe the only *complete* religion and spiritual path, and that everyone will be Buddhist someday. (Even if "someday" means "after the next Buddha, Maitreya, appears, about 2500 years from now".) But I've seen too many go from Christian to Pagan, or Pagan to Christian, or Wiccan to Hellenic, or Anglican to Roman Catholic, and be obnoxious assholes about the superiority of their current path over their previous one, as if that previous path did nothing good for them. Well, it somehow led them to their current affiliation, so it couldn't have been 100% useless.
I really really want to avoid that. I really really want to avoid any appearance of being preachy, being an expert, being an authority. One thing I've had to wrestle with is that Buddhism is much, much bigger than I am; there are a lot of teachings I don't and can't understand, and there are practices I may not be ready for in this lifetime. When it comes to the Buddhadharma, I AM A N00B. This is a humbling realization, not to say humiliating.
So if I do say anything about Buddhism, about what the Dharma teaches, please please take as very much, "This is my result; YMMV" and as one person's fumblings and ramblings and flailings and explorations. And as the Tibetans like to say, "Sarva mangalam"--good fortune and blessings to everyone on their paths.
Mon, Aug. 31st, 2009, 11:07 am
Autumn in the air
Temps this morning in the sixties. I wore (from bottom to top) my Dansko clogs, socks that go higher than the ankle, light-weight khaki jeans, a short-sleeved sage green t-shirt, and a lightweight khaki scarf/shawl. Niiiiiiice....
Mon, Aug. 31st, 2009, 10:08 am
Thoughts on food (not mine)
I love Michael Pollan, but the way that he talked about American feminists' attitude toward cooking was incredibly reductive and, frankly, pretty ahistorical. Articles like Pollan's (and anything that makes people feel like they are failing their obligations to themselves and their families by not cooking) produce a lot of guilt, and that guilt is gendered. That is a problem.
But I don't think the solution to that is to stop trying to get people to cook. The solution is to make sure that the household work is distributed more equitably. And I say that with full understanding of how little things have changed since the '70s, in terms of getting men to fucking do their share around the house. And I also think that it's no accident that the kind of rarefied, chef-dominated cooking discourse that I was talking about earlier, that often makes people feel like they can't cook rather than helping them feel that they can, is very male-dominated. Whereas the quotidian meal prep in this country is still mostly female-dominated. The feminist movement has generated a lot of good analysis around that. However, we have not moved the needle very much. I don't have an answer for that.
I also have a lot of frustrations with the way Pollan talks about "obesity." He talks about how obesity rates rise as rates of cooking fall. And I'm sure that's true, but it doesn't actually matter. Because obesity is not a good measure of health.
What really saddens me about the state of the pro-food discourse about obesity right now is that when Monsanto says genetically modified soybeans are not an environmental problem or a health problem, the pro-food movement is extremely skeptical, and they call that out as total bullshit. Whereas when the medical industry says "fat kills," they're not like: Actually, no, diabetes may kill, but the cause and effect relationship between the two is not as uncomplicated as you'd have us believe.Lisa Jervis at Salon
Fri, Aug. 28th, 2009, 12:48 pm
Another of my favorite vids/songs/medleys/wild Irish freak-outs
Matt Malloy does the Sexy Flute Player Stance in this one. Oh my god, I used to play guitar for some of this.
Fri, Aug. 28th, 2009, 11:43 am
I love this video so much
Even if Shane McGowan *does* look like an intoxicated ferret.
Fri, Aug. 28th, 2009, 09:40 am
Thinking about Ted Kennedy
The tributes I have seen to the late Senator, especially coming from Republicans who knew and loved him, remind me that in our national politics, we used to be able to function without one party demonizing the other, without calling for the elimination of people who think differently, without politicians being enemies by default simply because they sat on the other side of the aisle. They also remind me that once upon a time, Ann Coulter would not have dared to use "liberal" as an insult.
Thu, Aug. 27th, 2009, 01:32 pm
I think fandom needs a wide distribution of this item
Thu, Aug. 27th, 2009, 10:49 am
Do you like children's illustrator Eric Carle?
Thu, Aug. 27th, 2009, 10:42 am
I've written a short piece for a fanfic festival and posting isn't until October. Guess I'll have to write something else!
Wed, Aug. 26th, 2009, 01:21 pm
Ted Kennedy RIP
The Kennedy family was a bunch of crooks, particularly Joseph, the patriarch--and what he did to his daughter Rosemary was and is appalling. But of John, Robert, and Edward, and of most of the clan, I would say that they mostly used their power for good. Edward Kennedy has lived the longest and had a chance to do greater good than his unfortunate, iconic brothers, and he has been a hard-working Senator who never forgot what his party stands for. As [info - personal] antennapedia wrote over on LJ, "His legislative legacy is far greater than the flawed human being was, but that's what the tradition of public service used to be about." I wish him peace, and to his family and friends, consolation.
Wed, Aug. 26th, 2009, 09:55 am
OMG they look so happy to be together
Wed, Aug. 26th, 2009, 09:08 am
Politics and me
I find myself reading a lot lately about politics, specifically about what I will broadly call the anti-Obama movement in this country. I mean the people who insist that Obama cannot possibly be an actual United States citizen, he cannot possibly be *eligible* for the Presidency, let alone have been elected to the office, the people who want to see his birth certificate or even his penis (because circumcision or lack thereof is somehow tied to Real American Citizenship). I mean the people who are shouting that expanding American health care to cover *more people* and help people who have no medical care will mean forced abortion, forced euthanasia, "death panels", more money out of the pockets of hard-working deserving white people who have of course earned everything they have. I mean the people who keep asking "Why should I have to pay for somebody else's health care if they won't [i.e., *can't*] do it themselves? as if every religion and every ethical system in human history did not teach that generosity is a virtue and that we are responsible for one another. (And I want to look up quotes from multiple sources, monotheistic, polytheistic, Buddhist, to demonstrate that.) I mean the preacher who told his flock that every night he prays for Obama to die and go to hell.
These people are scaring the shit out of me. I try to look at it from my newly-acquired Buddhist perspective, and I say, Yep, the three poisons are alive and active: Anger/aversion/hatred, DO NOT WANT, pushing away people Not Like Us; and greed/attachment/desire, clinging to money, to identity, to concepts of American Identity and Justice and Socialism and whatnot; and ignorance, indifference, I don't know and I don't want to know, I don't care and I refuse to care. Anger, attachment, and ignorance, alive and well in American public life. And I want to have compassion for these people, tied up in knots as they are, and I manage at least a little pity because I know they are desperately unhappy, but more than anything, they scare me. And I have fantasies of winning the lottery and relocating to Europe.
Tue, Aug. 25th, 2009, 07:22 pm
Quote of the Day
Happiness, we do not find it, we make it.
Happiness does not depend on what we lack, but how we use what we have.
(tip of the hat to Deeshan
Tue, May. 22nd, 2007, 12:47 pm
Anybody else having trouble accessing LJ right now? I can't even get to the home page.
Thu, Feb. 1st, 2007, 10:27 am
Anybody else having trouble accessing Livejournal and/or Vox right now? I can't get to TypePad, either--they host Cute Overload. I have a ph33r that my firewall at work is suddenly blocking these sites; I *can* get to Gmail, Wordpress, Blogspot, Wikipedia, etc.
ETA: I think the problem may actually be Six Apart, the parent company for LJ, Vox, and TypePad. Their homepage is down, too. Yeesh.