Thursday, September 07, 2006

Weblinks 9/7/06

Colmar3000 says the Dalai Lama is a wise man guilty of expressing the following "idiocy":

Recently an interviewer remarked to me, "Westerners have a great fear of death, but Easterners seem to have very little fear of death."

To that I half-jokingly responded, "It seems to me that, to the Western mind, war and the military establishment are extremely important. War means death--by killing, not by natural causes. So it seems that, in fact, you are the ones who do not fear death, because you are so fond of war.

We Easterners, particularly Tibetans, cannot even begin to consider war; we cannot conceive of fighting, because the inevitable result of war is disaster: death, injuries, and misery.

Therefore, the concept of war, in our minds, is extremely negative. That would seem to mean we actually have more fear of death than you. Don't you think?"

Colmar argues that it's disingenuous if not staggeringly ignorant to suggest that Easterners today as well as traditionally haven't been as prone to make war as anyone else, and he cites Sun Tzu, the Bhagavad Gita, the Chinese Empire, the Japanese samurai, the "fascist militarism of the Japanese Empire in WW2," North Korea's nuclear threats, and ancient and modern Tibetan history. But, Colmar says, after the Chinese conquered Tibet:

While the Chinese destroyed temples, murdered monks, raped nuns in public, and suppressed the teaching of Buddhism, the Dalai Lama used his wealth, power and prestige to arrange his personal escape, leaving his people and his country to the both literal and figurative rape of the Communist Chinese.

And just where did he escape to? Why to the very “militaristic” powers, India and the West, that he now campaigns against…

Traveling freely throughout the West, protected from the Chinese authorities by Western armies, he then uses that freedom to attack the very power that protects him!

I tend to agree with Colmar's conclusion:

If we choose to follow this teaching of pacifism, we too can be overrun by an aggressive military power that will then outlaw the teaching of all pacifistic religions.

But I take issue with his suggestion that the Bhagavad Gita advocates military conflict rather than the conquest of the internal obstacles to enlightenment, that the Dalai Lama's gentle admonitions against unnecessary violence and killing is an "attack" on the United States, and that the way the U.S. has used military force in Iraq and elsewhere recently is the only reasonable alternative to absolute pacifism.

In a Beliefnet reprint, Mary Beth Cain draws the following lesson from the recent death of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin:

Most, myself included, passed him off as a camera-hungry thrill seeker whose egomania was simply astonishing...But you know, I don't feel that way anymore. After reading about Irwin, and watching Larry King's 2004 interview with him, which was rebroadcast last night, I have to say that Steve Irwin was a man who lived life to the absolute fullest, and died doing what he loved...Irwin never let fear stand in the way of his love of life. He was out there risking, every day, and learning and growing and, well, living. His death is being called, of course, a tragedy...But is his death really all that tragic? I know a lot of people who are so afraid of dying that they end up afraid to live. So afraid of failure that they end up failing to try. It makes you ask the question, what's worse? Living an unlived life, or dying a lived one? We know what Irwin's answer would have been.

Debra Saunders has a different take on Irwin's death:

Irwin's other legacy is that he has passed onto the world's children the fanciful notion that nature is a theme park. He failed to respect the lethal side of his co-star creatures...When human beings mistake wildlife for Walt Disney characters, they fail to appreciate wild animals for what they truly are -- wild. Read: Not susceptible to boyish charm...That is why the proper way to view wildlife is not in a close shot next to Irwin's round face, but through a long lens, where they can be seen living in their own habitat. A crocodile is a wonder to behold because it is a crocodile, not because it snaps at Irwin's boot...As Wild Kingdom's Jim Fowler told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly Tuesday, when his show first aired, "people were just content with seeing the animal. Now they want, you know, confrontation with the animal. They want adventure. They want excitement. The technology and the little cameras get right in their mouth. So this stuff is going to continue to happen. It's going to get worse, I believe."...Irwin did not deserve to die -- but his death can hardly be considered a surprise. It was the predictable end that followed the marriage of a dangerous hobby with a dangerous conceit -- and better Irwin than the baby.

Scientist Jerry Coyne praises Fredrick Crews' collection of "epistemological" essays in Crews' book Follies of the Wise that debunk Freud, creationism, scientists' own attempts to reconcile their disciplines with religion, and deconstruction in literary theory. Here are some key quotes that Coyne takes from Crews' book:

“Intelligent design awkwardly embraces two clashing deities – one a glutton for praise and a dispenser of wrath, absolution, and grace, the other a curiously inept cobbler of species that need to be periodically revised and that keep getting snuffed out by the very conditions he provided for them. Why, we must wonder, would the shaper of the universe have frittered away some fourteen billion years, turning out quadrillions of useless stars, before getting around to the one thing he really cared about, seeing to it that a minuscule minority of earthling vertebrates are washed clean of sin and guaranteed an eternal place in his company?”

“The human race has produced only one successfully validated epistemology, characterizing all scrupulous inquiry into the real world, from quarks to poems. It is, simply, empiricism, or the submitting of propositions to the arbitration of evidence that is acknowledged to be such by all of the contending parties. Ideas that claim immunity from such review, whether because of mystical faith or privileged “clinical insight” or the say-so of eminent authorities, are not to be countenanced until they can pass the same skeptical ordeal to which all other contenders are subjected.”

Coyne concludes that "As science in America becomes more harried and debased by politics and religion, we desperately need to heed Crews' plea for empiricism."

Finally, a recent study suggests that drinking fruit and/or vegetable juice three or more times per week lowered the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 76%. Scientists speculate that non-vitamin antioxidant compounds called polyphenols in fruit and vegetable juices may be responsible, and they are looking to do studies testing this hypothesis.


Counter Mag said...


Nagarjuna said...

And a yawn over your yawn (and other unconstructive comments), my friend.

Counter Mag said...

Dude, you keep deleting the most profound of the comments and also the only persons left talking to you!

Counter Mag said...

Yeah, why you doin' that?

Nagarjuna said...

My friend, I delete what should be deleted and welcome all the rest.