Category Archives: Himalayas

Buddhist exclusivism in Sri Lanka

Is this modernism, exclusivism or fundamentalism? I’ve got a chapter coming out (in Sharing the Sacra, ed. Glenn Bowman) in which I discuss local responses to a similar attitude among Pharping Tibetans, but this is sharper still. While recent academic study of Buddhism shows that it has always included deities of various flavours, the uncompromising attitude shown by the author of this peace gives me little hope for flexible, collusive processes such as those I documented in Pharping. Surely Nāgārjuna was right to list worshipping the worship-ables right after the ten precepts in his Ratnāvalī.


Open source at the blunt edge.

Here is an object lesson in why free and open source software is a symbol of good ethics.

The other day, I had a PDF sent to me by the private firm to which the UK government outsources its visa application work in Nepal. The PDF was a list of documents required to apply for a UK Visa. That list is nowhere on the internet, because it asks for documents that very, very few Nepalis could realistically provide; it is, in effect, a challenge to produce impossible documentation. Bear in mind that the average per capita income in Nepal is less than £200, and most are unemployed with little or no property. Nonetheless the document list requires, for example, tax records for three years. I know no one in our village who pays tax save, perhaps, the largest monasteries; how could they? In any case, the institutional corruption involved in the visa industry in Nepal, or Nigeria or pretty much anywhere else, is staggering and a subject of research by a few of my colleagues. Every university who admits foreign students knows this. So that PDF? It was printed using unlicensed software – the header on the document says so. I’d be surprised if they had paid for their copies of Office. Do they care? Why should they? It’s enterprise Britain! ‘We don’t want you unless you can lie about having £6000 so well that we can’t tell.’ Britain is proud to be represented by an outsourced firm operating on such a deep assumption of corruption-within-bounds that they are not embarrassed to send out official documentation using an unlicensed programme.

By contrast, one can get a free Nepali dictionary and clear instructions on how to install it into Open Office from FOSS Nepal. The visa service could run their entire office legally using their distribution of Linux and applications. It wouldn’t cost taxpayers, or visa applicants, a penny. Wouldn’t that be a much better symbol of what Britain stands for?

Bad publicity, confused gender.

Well, it had to happen. Here’s the blurb for a film in which a Yeti is the horror interest. Probably a male monster.

Contrast this to Herge’s poignantly misunderstood beast herge_yeti.jpg. In Tintin in Tibet, the yeti is shy, lonely, and female. I gather there is a play, with strong ecofeminist leanings, called ‘Betty the Yeti’—to be sought, indeed.

For sheer strangeness, what about ‘Sex Secrets of the Yeti’ (google it yerself!) – which so far as I could determine puts forth (ahem) a male monster.

Best not to take this too seriously.