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  • hardie karges 8:09 am on February 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: internet, , laptop, Omicron, VPN, WiFi   

    Karma on the Installment Plan—in Nepal… 

    I’ll change my usual format here today, which typically consists of choosing what I consider to be a pithy quote or two—of my own, of course—and then expound on it or them, in the hope of explaining myself and/or the world, so that it might help someone in their own personal quest for beauty, truth, and goodness. Because sometimes life itself offers succinct little stories that say more than I can say from the depths of my imagination, no matter how hard I try. And I would also like to cross-pollinate my Buddha and travel blogs, too, so this seems like a good opportunity. I’ll just re-blog this there.

    In this case the meat of the subject is the idea that the worst things that happen often bring rich blessings, if one can only find the lesson in the suffering and turn despair into delight with a minimum of delay. This goes to the heart of karma, and gives it new value, so not just a justification of an often unjust status quo which consolidates the wicked in power and reduces social mobility to a minimum. Karma, after all, means ‘acts,’ not ‘fate,’ such that the merit gained from good acts, will come back to bless the actor many times over with benefits from unspecified locations and sources.

    (More …)
  • hardie karges 1:03 pm on September 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , internet, , , , , Virtual Reality   

    Buddhism and the Balancing Act of Excellence… 

    Violence solves nothing. It only creates more violence. We all know it, yet still we do it, reveling in our passions and bathing all awash in our emotions unapologetic, for this is what we are taught from day one, in the wild wild west, to be passionate about what we do, and anything less is ‘middling…’

    Yet middling is part and parcel of Buddhism and its Middle Path, the avoidance of excess and its extremes, in favor of the boredom of ‘middle-ness.’ From this viewpoint happiness is as often as not the avoidance of sadness, and bliss might very well be suspect for its dalliance with extreme emotion…

    Does this attitude build great cities? Does this attitude conquer continents, and send rockets to the moon? No it probably doesn’t, and we are probably better off because of it. Because neither does it commit genocides, enslave peoples, or cause global warming, and it can produce great art…

    Has your life really improved with the invention of Roombas to Hoover your floors? Do you really need four hundred channels of mediocre programming on the idiot box to satisfy your palate? And before you point out to me that I seem to be championing mediocrity as the Middle Way between lack and excess, I wish to point out that excellence is not a threat to anyone’s existence in the same way that luxury and self-starvation are, which is the original inspiration to the Buddha’s awakening…

    The Middle Path itself is nothing if not excellent. Do you think that it is easy finding that meandering sweet spot between extremes? It’s not. It’s an exquisite, but not excruciating, balancing act. And balance is crucial to the equation. Is it even possible for an equation to not be balanced? Of course not…

    Yet our lives in the 21st century are far from being balanced. We worship the gods of technological salvation, but we are never saved. We are only further addicted to our own existential cravings. Now I love science, and technology, i.e. applied science, but I don’t really need a self-driving car. I need a city that doesn’t’ require automobiles…

    Internet is sublime, and Virtual Reality is transcendent, but what else do we need? Interstellar exploration is wonderful, but you don’t need rockets for that, just better telescopes. Our cities are sh*t-stained pits and our lives wallow in the mire, accordingly. Nature, and dharma, can, and should be, a refuge, on a good day. Cities and technology? Meh, not so much…

  • hardie karges 4:25 pm on December 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , internet, ,   

    Waiting for it: Electronic Buddha in the Electronic Forest Temple 

    img_0908I think it’s a bum rap, the false narrative about smart-phones and other tech, how we never talk to our neighbors any more—we never did! Unless they’re nice. And we still do, if there’s something to discuss. Should we regress to the day when stay-at-home wives have nothing better to do than chew the fat with the housewives’ club all day every day? Yes, I know it’s a real job, but still…

    So why did no one ever make an issue of us reading news papers all the time, or listening to radio? No, they never did that until TV, couch potatoes and all that jazz, and that defines the line that divides our civilization from the initial inquisitive developmental mode to the current acquisitive ‘been there done that’ full-of-it mode, a civilization in decline, with red lights flashing… (More …)

    • davekingsbury 4:01 pm on December 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      A damning indictment as well as indicating the seeds of renewal, taking in a sharp comparison of then and now and asking big questions for the future. As EM Forster said, Only Connect …

  • hardie karges 4:48 pm on August 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , internet,   

    Clickbait and a Better Mousetrap: Internet as Swiss Cheese 

    Facebook is a carnival midway, if you’re an oldster, or maybe a hippie fair, if you’re a boomer, everybody trying to sell something, mostly crap, but you never know, gotta’ get you off the pavement and into a cool room to discuss matters, like an Oriental rug merchant, sip some mint tea, and finesse that bulge in your pocket, the one that holds the money, not the one that wears the genes…

    The Internet is Swiss cheese, Emmentaler, hardened and full of holes, going off in to other dimensions. FB is a 3-D medium, a surface like People magazine, all smiles and light, and an infinite number of worm-holes that you’re supposed to crawl down for a better view of the Matrix, the ads, the commercials, the dark hidden world of desire unrequited…

  • hardie karges 10:08 am on August 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , internet,   

    FaceBook 101 for Beginners, the HK version: Friends Please Read Carefully… 

    Like Me, Baby...

    Like Me, Baby…

    Likes: if you like a FaceBook post, or just want to piss on the tree to indicate you’ve been there, then firmly but gently click the ‘like’ button, indicated with a ‘thumbs up’ sign. That’s all you have to do. Like away, like all day, forget your house your spouse and your job, just sit there liking things to your heart’s content. We content providers will love you…

    Share: now that is different. True, there’s a button there, very similar to the ‘like’ button, but it is in the form of an arrow, not a thumb. But there’s a bigger difference than that: it takes up space on my page, typically a large space, since most FB manipulators are much more ostentatious–and greedy with space–than I with my humble little blog here. This is especially important now, since the ‘share now’ option allows you one-click convenience, and FB’s own ads now take up half the available space… (More …)

  • hardie karges 8:38 am on June 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , internet, ,   

    #Clickbait and the Decline of Western Civilization 

    Clickbait’: I like that word. Doesn’t that describe most of what passes for the so-called ‘social media’ these days? People are even starting to write—and talk—like HuffPost: “You won’t believe what happens next.” And then they pause—dead stop. You have to ask what happens next while looking around to see if you’re missing any important advertisements or coupon specials…

    But videos are the worst. It’s no wonder advertising loves the medium. I don’t know of any official figures, but you must easily spend twice the time watching a video as you do reading the same information at your own chosen speed…

    That’s the key: waste time shopping. Department stores in Thailand rearrange the whole store once a week, just to mess with your head, and make you waste time shopping–and buying. But, of course, in Thailand the ‘Psychology’ section of any bookstore is full of marketing tips. “I’m okay, you’re okay?” yeah, right. Pay in advance.

    Yes, we’ve certainly advanced past the primitive days of TV, that dinosaur medium long since surpassed in the effort to see who can watch a movie on the smallest screen while acting the hippest and coolest in the process. Monetize it by multiplying it. Revolutions per minute = sales per minute, consumption of precious resources while flying through the air firing two guns simultaneously… you won’t believe what happens next…

  • hardie karges 5:12 am on December 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DJ, , , internet, , VJ   

    FB Jockeys, Apply Here 

    Most people know where the term ‘DJ’ comes from—’disc jockey’ of course—and some of us can even remember MTV when it had actual music videos and the head-wagging self-swaggering personalities known as VJ’s—video jockeys. So what will they (we) call the self-appointed spinners of clips and quips, tunes and modern-day cryptological runes that populate our common playground and media ‘ground zero’ known as ‘FaceBook’? FJ’s? BJ’s? FBJ’s? Will this become a paid gig one day? Don’t put it past the Zucker-man in his bid to monetize the playground. It’s all fair game. I notice ads coming up now almost every time I ‘like’ anything. You would-be wannabe FBJ’s start getting your demo reel (file? down-load? flash-drive?) together. Auditions are in progress…


  • hardie karges 11:25 am on August 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , internet,   

    Future of the Internet: It’s Chinatown, Jake… 

    And I’m not talking about the mock-up tourist-trap Chinatowns of a thousand modern Western cities, graced by a red-tile roof in up-turned smile and filled with Mom-and-Pop trinket shops specializing in red lanterns and fat-bellied Buddhas and calligraphy that says whatever you want.  Nor am I talking about the Chinatown of the Polanski film/Towne script/Nicholson fame depicting 30’s LA, though that comes closer.

    No, I’m talking about the Chinatown of a thousand forgotten real Asian neighborhoods where street signs compete for sight-lines and taxi-girls hustle for ten-dollar fares and old market ladies who haven’t seen sunlight in years huddle in dark dingy stalls, their only sensory stimulation the olfactory interplay between pungent chilies pricking and bathroom odors wafting, may the strongest smell win…  The market always wins. (More …)

  • hardie karges 7:51 am on May 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Google, , internet   

    Google finally confirms what we already knew, that while we’re searching out there, they’re searching in here. They probably know more about me than I do. So what will they do with the info?

    • Ron 9:57 pm on May 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Just wait until we are all wearing Google Glasses. Then they will have our biometric signature for the Google Drone. LOL

      • hardie karges 7:40 am on May 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        It’s hard to know whether to be frightened or flattered, with ads following me around the screen…

  • hardie karges 5:11 pm on December 31, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , internet, , , ,   

    Confessions of an Aging Backpacker 

    Okay, okay, I admit it. I like to travel; no more long-winded explanations about business, ‘raw material’, or “I like interesting places, but not the actual traveling to get there”. I like it all, okay? It’s a way of life- the spontaneity, the breeze in your hair, the new experience just around the next bend, the friend-for-life that you just might meet tomorrow. Like the hero in one of my favorite songs, it may not keep you free and clean, but it’ll keep you honest. Who says you have to sit in a little house on a little street in a little town in a little country every day for the rest of your life anyway? My Indo-European-speaking ancestors certainly didn’t. They spread far and wide with nothing much more than a herd of cattle for inspiration. Those humble herders went on to become Greeks, Hindus, Romans, Persians, Russians, Germans, French, British, and Americans. What’s the first thing those modern men and women want to do when they’re old enough to leave home and have enough money to consider their options? For many, the answer is obvious: travel. Like salmon swimming upriver, maybe it’s there in the genes somewhere. For others, maybe it’s in the jeans somewhere.

    Of course if you’re a true backpacker, it doesn’t take much money. It takes smarts, and a modicum of daring. After all, luxury is not the goal. Adventure is. Or if not true adventure, then at least novelty. A true backpacker will go hundreds of miles out of his way to cross a border that’s only recently opened and the people are not yet jaded. That’s virgin territory, but we can change all that. We’re only limited by the Backpacker Uncertainty Principle (BUP)- that undiscovered paradise at the end of that new road will be altered by our very presence, and our own perceptions are only that, not reality itself. Technically, of course, you can’t measure our speed and plot our location simultaneously, either, but that seems irrelevant here. Still we persist in our search for novelty. This is, after all, the greatest show on earth, in full Technicolor, Sensurround, and Odorama. You’re only limited by your imagination and your pocketbook. There’s only one guiding Backpacker Rule and it’s simple: Travel light. Okay, you don’t have to drill holes in your toothbrush as one early travel guide jokingly suggested, but you get the idea.

    For better or worse, back when I first started, there was no Lonely Planet travel guide, much less hundreds, much less Rough Guide, Moon Publications, or any of the others. Standards were the corny old Frommer books and the series based on ‘Europe on $10 a Day’. South American Handbook was the Bible for Latin America and there were just starting to be some ‘cool’ travel books coming out like ‘Southeast Asia on a Shoestring’, ‘Indonesia Handbook’, ‘Along the Gringo Trail’, and ‘People’s Guide to Mexico’. The last of these is probably my all-time favorite, simply because it told you nothing about where to stay or what to pay, but it told you what it’s like to be part of the landscape. For me, ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. I know what it’s like being a tourist, backpacker or otherwise. That’s nearly the same everywhere. Guesthouses, restaurants, and travel agencies, even mountains, rivers, and deserts are very similar all over the world. Cultures are what distinguish a place. I want to know what it’s like to live there. That’s what backpackers do. You live in a series of situations linked like a chain, neither constant travelling nor constant residence. Sure, I want to know where the temples, museums, and waterfalls are, but I also want to know what’s in the CD and video stores, movie theatres and supermarkets, also. A book doesn’t help much with that, and I used to eschew them religiously. Now I eschew them because I hardly know where I’ll end up when I start out, and extra paper violates Backpacker Rule #1 (and the basics you can get from the Lonely Planet http://www.ebsite on any computer from any Internet Café anywhere in the world. Ha!)

    I like to think of myself as one of the ‘originals’, but actually I’m not. I started in the mid-70’s, what I would call the ‘belated Hippie’ era. That was probably the Golden Age, when many places in the world were still inexpensive, still culturally distinguishable, but developed enough, and globally aware enough, that accommodations catering to this youthful group quickly sprung up, almost overnight in some cases. A Westerner could simply hop on the bus and cross on over to the other side. For an American, that meant Mexico and South America. For a European, that meant Turkey and Africa. For an Australian, Indonesia and Southeast Asia were obvious choices. For all, India was like the jewel in the crown, prized equally for its guru-laden culture and long-time facility with the English language. India, indeed, was one of the favorites of the previous generation that started out as beatniks in Goa, Tangier, and Ajijic. The next wave surfaced later smelling the roses in Kathmandu, Marrakesh, and Panajachel, and ending up on the beaches and bitches of Samui, Kuta, and Mallorca. The scene changed from the Beatnik characters portrayed in On the Road and progressed to the post-hippies of Video Night in Kathmandu to the modern-day slackers of The Beach.

    Of course the backpacker scene changes all the time, by definition. The overland route from Europe through Asia now goes north through Russia and China, rather than south through Iran and Afghanistan. Who could’ve guessed that thirty years ago? Of course, back then the highest goals of any traveler were India and Nepal, now both a bit smudged in the public eye. Old places lose their charm and new places open for business, many times due to political considerations. Laos was in, out, now back in, ditto for Peru, but give Kabul a little more time. Vietnam still lures, Yangshuo and Dali in China still maintain their charm even after the novelty’s gone, and Prague’s the rockingest spot in Europe, long after Western Europe priced itself out of the backpacker market. Sometimes an area or city remains popular, but the center for backpackers drifts to new neighborhoods. Kathmandu’s Freak street has moved across town to Thamel, as has Bangkok’s Soi Ngam Duphli to Khaosan Road, while Bali’s Kuta merely extends itself endlessly down the same street, first to Legian, then to Seminyak, like growth lines on a tree.

    Rising prices have decreased the attraction of Latin America, along with increased crime, but there are still adventures to be had, especially in the South American Andes. The threat of violence also affects perceptions of Africa and Muslim countries, but persevere. If you don’t mind being the only backpacker around, then every place is a potential trip. You don’t really require banana pancakes, do you? Asia is clearly ‘Easy Street’ for today’s backpackers, what with former Communist countries not only cheap, not only time capsules, but now allowing multiple entry and exit points so that one can loop back to a starting point without re-tracing one’s steps. This is Backpacker Rule #2 (Okay, I lied earlier): Backpack, don’t backtrack. Novelty is worth the long hard bumpy ride through uncertainty and digestive distress, but reruns only excite when they’re nostalgia runs, like time travel, same space but different times. But that takes a few years to be effective.

    Yes, things have certainly changed since that day some thirty years ago when I first put thumb to the air and the rest was history. Gone is the Culture Shock. Gone is the thumb, as a rule of thumb. Gone are the days of ‘going native’, when you’d trade your jeans, Vibram-soled boots and down-filled jacket for the local handspun and go live in a hovel with the Indians. I suppose that is a testament to the increasing globalization of world culture, but probably also to the increasing luxury of the backpacker scene. Backpackers now have got it easy, what with all the centers of cheap accommodation competing for your dollar, all the cafes, all the guidebooks, all the Modern Standard Pidgin English gone worldwide. But I’m not complaining. I got a glimpse of a past they’ll never get. I became a self-taught linguist out of the necessities of world travel. I became a self-taught anthropologist to try to make sense of everything I saw. I even made a career out of travel, dealing in handicrafts when they, too, had a novelty value and a Golden Age which is now in decline. I’ve even had the opportunity to live in several foreign countries (and still be my own boss).

    Internet makes travel much easier and knowledgeable nowadays. E-tickets mean you don’t have to worry about losing that handful of tickets that link you back to the ‘real world’. Improved transportation means that formerly inaccessible areas are now open for business, notwithstanding the fact that what attracted you in the first place may change in the process. Life is good. I’ve visited forty-eight countries (and counting), worked in ten or twelve of them, and lived in two or three of them. AND THEY’RE CREATING NEW ONES ALL THE TIME. I figure if I visit five or six new countries a year, then I’ll see them all before, well, you know. I still hardly know Africa or the Middle East, and now Central Asia’s game. Forget those obscure land borders, though. At fifty years old (and counting), I start looking for airlines from exotic countries that allow free stopovers at no extra cost. I start looking to see which airlines make fuel stops in Cape Verde. I start weighing the options of flying from Bangkok to New York via the Pacific or Atlantic. I start seeing the world not as a random collection of countries, but as Hispanic or Germanic, Francophone or Lusophone, Slavic or Semitic, Uralic or Altaic, Bantu or Manchu, Sino-Tibetan or Uto-Aztecan, etc. according to the historical ebb and flow of peoples, religions, languages, and power. I stop counting the years and start counting my blessings. Unfortunately, I still need to count the money once in a while. See you in Mozambique.

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