In the Western stereotype, Buddhists are meditating pacifists who strive to keep their distance from worldly passions. But last month, more than 40 people were killed in fighting between Buddhists and Muslims in the central Burmese town of Meiktila. Witnesses say some Buddhist monks joined in the violence, while others tried to stop it.
One prominent monk in particular has been blamed for being behind it.
U Wirathu, 45, is head of the Masoeyein monastery in Myanmar’s second-largest city, Mandalay, just up the highway from Meiktila. Wirathu is considered a talented scholar of Buddhist scriptures in the ancient Pali language, which gives him authority among Buddhists.
On a recent day, he sat in the middle of a large hall, full of Buddhist imagery and pictures of other monks. Wirathu is a slight figure, clad in saffron-colored robes. He says he was in Meiktila during the violence, and was trying to stop it.
“We spoke to the crowds to try to control the situation,” he says in a steady voice. “We assured them of their safety. We told them we intended to protect their lives and homes and asked them to join us.”
Wirathu acknowledges he’s a Buddhist nationalist. But he says he’s just defending his nation and his religion against attacks by outsiders.
“The Burmese race has been insulted,” he argues. “The Buddhist religion has been attacked, and our country has been trespassed. These are the origins of our nationalism.”
When illustrator Ralph Steadman accepted an assignment with writer Hunter S. Thompson at the Kentucky Derby, he never imagined the weekend that would ensue. Here, Steadman depicts the race’s winner, a colt named Dust Commander.
In the spring of 1970, a British illustrator named Ralph Steadman had just moved to America, hoping to find some work. His first call came from a small literary journal called Scanlan’s. It was looking for a cartoonist to send to the Kentucky Derby. Steadman had heard of neither the race nor the writer he was to accompany, a fellow named Hunter S. Thompson.
Steadman hadn’t read any of Thompson’s work, and he certainly didn’t know that the writer had a bit of a drinking tendency, but he agreed to go.
One booze-riddled weekend later, Scanlan’s published the essay and launched Thompson into stardom. “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” so fascinated audiences that one Boston Globe writer deemed it “gonzo” — a term that would stick with Hunter S. Thompson for good.
‘The Real Beasts Perform’
Steadman and Thompson flew into Louisville separately and met at Churchill Downs to pick up their press credentials. As Thompson led Steadman around the racetrack, it quickly became clear that the two wouldn’t be watching much horse racing.
“We went into the inner field first to just look at the people,” he tells weekends on All Things Considered host Kelly McEvers. “We were really looking for odd faces. People that were kind of weird, you know? That seemed to become our real purpose.”
It was Thompson’s idea. They’d seek out the “whiskey gentry,” as the writer called them, and there they’d find that face: “a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis.”
That search became the central narrative of the essay. “We didn’t give a hoot in hell what was happening on the track,” Thompson wrote. “We’d come to watch the real beasts perform.”
A self-portrait of Steadman.
Cartoon Museum ……….READ/LISTEN TO THE STORY………
Wandering the streets of New Orleans.. music, food, city adventure
Read some earlier posts by going to Categories and picking your interest.
Please come back mid-April.
“How to Avoid Pleurisy:
Never make love to a girl named Candy on the tailgate of a half-ton Ford pickup during a chill rain in April out on Grandview Point in San Juan County, Utah.”
The auction of 4700-DN
“I have come for two reasons. To get drunk and buy a truck.” Gail told a news reporter as she walked into the upscale Metropolitan Restaurant in Salt Lake City Utah on the evening of August 18, 1998. The truck in question was a battered and rusty 1973 blue Ford F-100 with a bluebook value of $500. The reason Gail wanted it was that it once belonged to Edward Abbey, author of “Desert Solitaire”, anarchist defender of wilderness. Ed’s widow Clarke Cartwright Abbey had attached a red silk carnation boutonniere to the hood and then laid the rest of the bouquet inside the jockey box before she donated the truck to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) to be the main attraction in a silent auction to raise money for the protection of Ed’s beloved redrock desert.
I love the tactile experience of writing with truly obsolete technology. These days of scatterbrain thinking and an obsession with Control-V and Control-C, the typer gives equal parts freedom and discipline.
I found an old New Yorker under my bed this morning, along with a lot of dust. I’ve got to do some cleaning. Anyway, I kept this August, 2005 issue for a good reason. A very funny, in fact hilarious Kinky Friedman story/interview when he was running for Texas Governor… J.R.
Here are a few lessons from modern American music. First, he not busy being born is busy dying. Second, you can’t hang a man for killing a woman who is trying to steal your horse. And, third, you come to see what you want to see; you come to see, but you never come to know.
These are good lessons. Bob Dylan provided the first, Willie Nelson the second. The third belongs to Kinky Friedman, who, in the nineteen-seventies, travelled around the country with his country-and-Western band—Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys—annoying audiences with a series of goading, satirical songs with titles like “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Asshole from El Paso.” In the eighties, after the band broke up, Kinky reinvented himself as a mystery novelist. In the past twenty years, he has written seventeen mysteries starring a detective named Kinky Friedman—a Jewish cowboy from Texas who has quit a singing career for a life of sleuthing and one-liners in New York City. Today, Dylan and Nelson, whose onstage thrones in the great concert hall of musical divinity were installed decades ago, seem to intend to ride their tour buses forever. Kinky, who never learned to sit still much, has grown tired of his second career—this year, at the age of sixty, he announced that his most recent mystery will be his last—and has sought out a third. He intends to be the governor of Texas.
Which is more dangerous, dropping in or driving here on snowy roads? Turkey Chute, Grand Teton National Park.
A life filled with adventure tastes sweeter than one viewed from the couch. And as science tells us, sitting on the couch isn’t exactly the safest place to be, anyway.
The New York Times has just published a story entitled “Extreme Grief,” which purports to examine the hazards of adventurous sports like skiing, snowboarding, and backcountry skiing in particular. In fact, it is reporting at its worst, a random collection of anecdotes in support of a spurious assumption, with seemingly no real understanding of the true issues at hand. It tells the story of Rob Liberman, a heli-skiing guide in Haines, Alaska, who along with a client died in an avalanche almost exactly a year ago. Liberman’s parents have petitioned California’s senators, along with other congressional representatives (why California when the slide happened in Alaska isn’t explained), for “an independent investigation, improved safety conditions and standardized regulations for helicopter skiing in Alaska.” It also relies heavily on an interview with Ben Clark, a filmmaker who’s made a documentary about the accident called The Alaskan Way.
The problem with this story is that by casting vague concerns and institutional handwringing toward a disparate group of incidents, with no real understanding of the fundamental equation of risk, sport, and adventure, it suggests that pursuits like backcountry skiing simply aren’t worth the danger. It’s an unpacked snowball thrown in a random direction, but it calls into question the very essence of an adventurous life. That’s cowardly. And coming from a publication as big as the New York Times, it’s dangerous.
Look, it’s important to analyze risk and to study accidents forensically. As I’ve written before, if I die in an avalanche, the odds are that I made a mistake, and by all means, tear it apart, get to the heart of it, and learn from what I did wrong in hopes that others don’t repeat the mistake. Whatever happened that led to Liberman and Dodov dying, the facts should be made public — the decision making, the snowpack, the heli operation protocol. That’s how we learn. But a reactionary, emotional response that seeks to tighten pursuits that are by their very nature liberating, well, that needs its energies redirected elsewhere.
A clip from the movie Cool Hand Luke. In this scene, the new inmates are introduced to the rules and told that breaking any rule leads to a ‘night in the box.’
Billionaire Bill Koch is building a replica of an old western town on land he owns near Paonia, but some residents aren’t happy.
…………..LISTEN TO THE STORY…………
Dr. Peter Hackett in 1982, administering O2 to a climber at the clinic in Pheriche on the road to Everest.
President Obama’s description this morning of an idealized budget negotiation with Republicans was bizarrely quaint and decorous. “There’s a pretty straightforward way of doing this, and that is to set the debt ceiling aside, we pay our bills and then we have a vigorous debate about how we’re going to do further deficit reduction in a balanced way,” he said at the final news conference of his first term, devoted largely to the coming debt-ceiling crisis.
But the debate that Washington has been having has been anything but straightforward, and demanding that it be otherwise won’t make it change. The hard-right Republicans in the House aren’t interested in sitting at a long table with pencils and budget books; they want to set that table on fire, and burn to ashes all the compromises that long defined the two-party system.
Republican have made it clear they are fully prepared to shut down the government, block payments to retirees and soldiers, default on the credit of the United States, and cause a global panic by the end of next month, all of which will result from failing to raise the debt ceiling. Politico quoted several Republican lawmakers and aides today who said that party members are demanding that Speaker John Boehner consider default and a shutdown as a serious governing option.
Mr. Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” one leading Republican adviser said in the article. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes — so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”
The use of chaos as a legislative strategy — and to “manage” raucous members — is a new and explosive element in American politics, one that Mr. Obama doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge. Though he has no reason to believe this, he expressed hope this morning that common sense would prevail once the American people realize Congress is balking at paying its own debts. By refusing to let Republicans use the ceiling as a negotiating level, he said, he will eventually persuade the party to do the right thing.
“This is the United States of America,” he said. “What, we can’t manage our affairs in such a way that we pay our bills and we provide some certainty in terms of how we pay our bills? Look, I don’t think anybody would consider my position unreasonable here.”
But of course an entire political party does. The president’s position as the rational man in the room may help shift public blame toward the Republicans, but it’s far from clear that will be a useful tool. Many House Republicans, from districts as small and rigid as they are, don’t care about blame and consequences. Even members of the House leadership are talking openly about the uses of extortion.
Unfortunately Mr. Obama has refused to halt the crisis with any of the “simpler solutions,” as he put it today, ruling out the minting of a coin or, more realistically, the use of a clause in the 14th Amendment. (That clause prohibits any questioning of the public debt, and some lawyers have said it could be used to permanently eliminate the debt ceiling.) So even if he gets through February with the usual last-minute deal that infuriates the hard right despite excessive spending cuts, they will be back with the same club, again and again, until someone with resolve puts a permanent end to it.
Nick is selling out to focus more on his ranches and horses.
He is a BMW dealer in Los Angeles and has been actively working on this
collection for nearly 12 years.
A friend said that Nick has let this collection become a
secondary focus and wants to “move on.” Sad but true!
President Roosevelt celebrating Thanksgiving with polio patients at the Warm Springs Foundation for Infantile Paralysis Sufferers the Friday after the national holiday in 1938.
In 1789, President Washington declared Thurs., Nov. 26, as a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin,” according to the National Archives. But in the years following, the date for the holiday was announced by presidential proclamation and celebrated on various days and months. When President Lincoln made his Thanksgiving proclamation in 1863, the last Thursday of November became standard.
Then came the big date dispute of 1939 when two Thanksgiving holidays were observed.
You see, according to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, a five-Thursday November fell in 1933 and some retailers asked President Roosevelt to move the holiday up a week.
A snippet of a 1933 letter from the Downtown Association of Los Angeles asking President Roosevelt to push back Thanksgiving by a week.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum
The president denied the request and Americans ate their turkey on the last Thursday as always in 1933.
But, Roosevelt was president for a long time, long enough for another five Thursday November to roll around in 1939. Once again, some business leaders asked if the date for the holiday could be a week earlier to give people more time to shop for Christmas, and this time Roosevelt agreed to do it. This raised a hue and cry as many people felt that he was catering to large retailers so they could make more money.
A few governors decided their states would have Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of the month as usual and that’s how some people ended up celebrating it a week earlier or later than others. For two years.
President Roosevelt stuck with the second-to-last Thursday schedule, some states stuck with the last Thursday of the month schedule and finally on Dec. 26, 1941, Congress passed a law making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November.
Now you have a story to tell over Thanksgiving dinner. You’re welcome.
You can look at the numbers. You can go with with your gut. Or you can go the slightly more exciting route and ingest a hallucinogenic cocktail and then use flower petals and a couple of photographs to choose the winner of this year’s presidential election. Completely your call.
The AFP explains:
Using maracas, coca leaves and a hallucinogenic brew [ayahuasca], shamans in Peru got down to business Monday using pre-Columbian traditional ceremonies to pick a winner in the US presidential race. “The apus (gods of the hills in indigenous mythology) tell us (Barack) Obama will be reelected,” predicted Juan Osco, known as the Shaman of the Andes on San Cristobal hill overlooking Lima.
Members of the group placed flower petals on photos of the candidates that were also swept over with tobacco smoke. The shamans chewed coca leaves, a traditional ceremonial and medicinal plant since Inca times that helps fight altitude sickness.
Feel free to doubt the shamans’ drug-fueled predictive powers all you want (and we obviously do), but keep in mind they’ve offered about as much of a detailed explanation of their methodology as some political pundits who are covering this race professionally. They also have much less of a stake in the outcome.
Hikers near Paonia, Colo. Bill Koch, a billionaire industrialist who owns a ranch in the area, is building an Old West town on his property. More Photos »
PAONIA, Colo. — This is a story of a quiet billionaire and a middle-class mountain town, of class divisions, small-town quarrels and competing visions of the future of the West. But at its core, like so many stories here in the aspen-dappled hillsides, it is really all about land.
Specifically, it is about a belt of public land that cuts straight through a ranch owned by the industrialist Bill Koch, whose brothers Charles and David are top contributors to conservative Republican causes.
A century ago, sheepherders used the corridor to drive their flocks from valley floors to high grazing grounds without crossing private property. For decades after, it was mostly forgotten by everyone but a few hunters and hikers — one of dozens of such access strips that stipple maps of the West like a shower of hyphens.
But recently, Mr. Koch has made it perhaps the most contested ground for miles around, setting off a debate about private property and public access, privilege and tradition in an era when boutique ranches and sprawling new Western manors are brushing up against working-class rural communities.
Three years back, Mr. Koch offered a deal to the government that would let him combine the north and south halves of his 4,500-acre Bear Ranch. He would acquire the federally owned corridor that splits his property and four smaller public plots, a total of 1,690 acres.
In return, he would donate two smaller but more valuable and often visited private parcels to the National Park Service: one in the Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, the other near a dazzling reservoir about 70 miles from here. He also promised to build 23 miles of trails and new access routes to the forest and wilderness.
Opponents saw it as a land grab, one that brought the chasm between rich America and just-getting-by America right to their corner of the Rockies. To the staunchest opponents, it was simple: a powerful out-of-town landowner wanted to close public lands in their backyard so he could have the run of his.
‘Cocaine For Snowblindness’: What Polar Explorers Packed For First Aid—-Better ask Jack Miller since he was the logistics coordinator
From left: Frank Wild, Ernest Shackleton, Dr. Eric Marshall and Jameson Adams head back to base camp after getting within 97 miles of the South Pole — closer than anyone had gotten before them — Â in January 1909.
So you’re headed out to explore the frozen wilderness of the Antarctic, facing one of the most punishing climates on Earth. What kind of medical supplies do you strap onto your sledge in case of emergency, miles from any sign of civilization?
For the men of derring-do racing to reach the South Pole at the beginning of the 20th century, the medical must-have list read “more like a witch’s grimoire than the best medical advice of just a century ago,” Gavin Francis, a Scottish author and doctor,writes in the current issue of the literary magazine Granta.
Francis documents the curiosities that filled the medical kits of British explorer Ernest Shackleton and his men when they set off on their 1907-1909 Nimrod expedition. The trip brought them within 97 miles of the South Pole — a record at the time (and close enough to earn Shackleton a knighthood). Among the items they toted:
“[I]singlass, prepared from the swim bladders of Russian sturgeons. Coated with silk, it was used on open wounds. He had ‘gold-beater’s skin’, a parchment-like dressing only fractions of a millimetre thick. Prepared from the intestines of ox or sand sharks, it was used in the manufacturing of hammered gold foil but also to promote the healing of open sores. He had tonics of iron and strychnine and tonics of iron and arsenic; the wrong doses of either would cause a lingering death.”
Psychoactive drugs were also on hand, Francis writes. Cocaine was “dripped in the eye to cure snowblindness.” Diarrhea was treated with “chalk ground up with opium.” Colic called for “tincture of cannabis” mixed with “tincture of chilli pepper.” As our friends at the Two-Way have reported, they also had plenty of whisky on hand.
Others have noted that both Shackleton’s men and the doomed Robert F. Scott party carried pills called “Forced March,” a blend of cocaine and caffeine taken hourly to prolong endurance. What they didn’t have? Antibiotics.
“Perhaps the only medications that Shackleton carried that we would still use today,” Francis writes, “were aspirin and morphine.”
Francis himself knows what its like to minister in Antarctica’s no-man’s land: He spent 14 months as a base doctor at the British-run Halley Research Station, which sits on an ice shelf floating in the Weddell Sea, a few hundred miles from the South Pole. The medical kits he prepared for modern-day Antarctic researchers heading out deep into the ice fields included items such as laxatives, local anesthetics and “scalpels, catheters and a collar should anyone break his or her neck.” And because “the days of all-male Antarctica are over,” he writes, the kits also included items to deal with “the consequences of unprotected sex.”
During his South Pole sojourn, Francis decided to look up what his medical forebears packed for those early expeditions to the ends of the Earth. While their medicine was primitive, he notes, their scientific curiosity was anything but.
Shackleton’s chief surgeon, Eric Marshall, was also a cartographer and surveyor. Edward Wilson, the doctor on Scott’s ill-fated 1912 attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole, also “doubled up as a marine biologist and ornithologist.”
And no one should doubt the men’s bravery. Wilson was one of five men in Scott’s party who perished on the trek back from the South Pol. They arrived to discover that Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten them there by a little over a month. One man died at the foot of a glacier; another, lame from frostbite, walked out of a tent to his death rather than slow his team down.
Wilson, Scott and Lt. Henry Bowers spent their final days starving and freezing inside their tent, their progress blocked by raging storms. Wilson had packed enough morphine to let the men drift off to a painless death, but the men chose not to take that way out. As Scott wrote in one of his last, haunting journal entries, dated March 22-23, 1912:
“[M]ust be near the end. Have decided it shall be natural.”
Mitt Romney’s Real Agenda– If you want to understand Romney’s game plan, just look at what Republicans have been doing in Congress
It was tempting to dismiss Mitt Romney’s hard-right turn during the GOP primaries as calculated pandering. In the general election – as one of his top advisers famously suggested – Romney would simply shake the old Etch A Sketch and recast himself as the centrist who governed Massachusetts. But with the selection of vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, the shape-shifting Romney has locked into focus – cementing himself as the frontman for the far-right partisans responsible for Washington’s gridlock.
There is no longer any ambiguity about the path that Romney would pursue as president, because it’s the same trajectory charted by Ryan, the architect of the House GOP’s reactionary agenda since the party’s takeover in 2010. “Picking Ryan as vice president outlines the future of the next four or eight years of a Romney administration,” GOP power broker Grover Norquist exulted in August. “Ryan has outlined a plan that has support in the Republican House and Senate. You have a real sense of where Romney’s going.” In fact, Norquist told party activists back in February, the true direction of the GOP is being mapped out by congressional hardliners. All the Republicans need to realize their vision, he said, is a president “with enough working digits to handle a pen.”
The GOP legislation awaiting Romney’s signature isn’t simply a return to the era of George W. Bush. From abortion rights and gun laws to tax giveaways and energy policy, it’s far worse. Measures that have already sailed through the Republican House would roll back clean-air protections, gut both Medicare and Medicaid, lavish trillions in tax cuts on billionaires while raising taxes on the poor, and slash everything from college aid to veteran benefits. In fact, the tenets of Ryan Republicanism are so extreme that they even offend the pioneers of trickle-down economics. “Ryan takes out the ax and goes after programs for the poor – which is the last thing you ought to cut,” says David Stockman, who served as Ronald Reagan’s budget director. “It’s ideology run amok.”
There are those that are humble and those that are about to be…