Tag Archives: brooding

Brutal irony

Saturday was Buddha Pūrṇimā, the international holiday that celebrates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing. The UN Secretary General issued a message calling for solidarity and the alleviation of suffering.

In Sri Lanka, the military decided to celebrate the holiday in true Colt Peacemaker style, by launching a Gaza-style offensive against the last remaining enclave of Tamil separatists. Don’t get me wrong: in my opinion the LTTE is one of the worst terrorist organisations on the planet. That does not, however excuse the slaughter of civilians. The horrific triumphalism of the Asian Tribunes article celebrating the ‘liberation’ of the northeast of the island stifles any attempt at black humour. Hundreds are dead.

In the Swat Valley, thought to the birthplace of Padmasambhava, the Pakistani army continued a thorough offensive to dislodge the Taleban. I have not seen any reliable reports on how many are dead. At least a million people have become internal refugees.

At Bodhgaya, protests erupted because the shrine there, sacred to Buddhists worldwide, is controlled by a Hindu-majority board backed by government decree. The governor chose to chastise the Amebedkar-Buddhist protestors telling them that they were not showing ‘tolerance and inclusiveness’.

Here in Aberdeen our small saṅgha had a picnic.

Stan Freberg to the (sardonic) rescue

In my youngest daughter’s school they celebrated the visit of Green Santa, who was into Repair Reuse Recycle sort of prezzies. I like that. Stan Freberg, 50 years ago, took on the commercialization of Christmas in an astonishing recording called Green Christmas which the US broadcast media did its best to sink. Here’s a link to a page which has both the recording and the album cover. Note Freberg’s discussion of satire (outrage barely concealed with sweetness) and the lineage Voltaire-Swift-Al Capp.

And while we’re on the subject: a bit more satire.

Ossified professor syndrome

During the lecture series offered by an Extremely Famous professor some while back, a number of us at Aberdeen got to talking. Why was it that by the time an academic had become the invited star at a famous lecture series they had absolutely nothing new to say?

Theories included:

1) By the time you’ve got to that stage you’ve got nothing new left to say. This is a version of the ‘all mathematicians do their good work before they are 25’ theory.

2) The Committees That Be would never have the courage to invite someone exciting to give a lecture. The more paranoid version of this is the suspicion that only the toothless are put forward for high profile public roles. Even Zizek, much as I enjoy his snarls, is clearly a pet beast.