Sunday, January 30, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
A man saw a report that the world record for the high jump is 245cm. He didn't believe a word of it, because he had never seen anyone jump so high. However, in order to prove himself an open-minded, scientific person, he jump ten times himself. He jumped ten times every day for ten days, but his highest jump was 110cm. Therefore, he felt that he had proved that it is impossible for anyone to jump 245cm.
He never considered how athletes train, how their diets and hours are carefully regulated, how they stretch and build strength, and how a large number of factors are behind a world record. He also did not notice that because of his ten days' exercise, for a while his step was lighter, his appetite better, and his sleep sounder. He just told everybody that it is impossible for anyone to jump 245cm. He proved that he is nobody’s fool!
Another man saw a report that reciting Amitabha and telling mantras is good for you. He didn't believe a word of it, because he had never known anybody who had tried that. However, in order to prove himself an open-minded, scientific person, he recited Amitabha a hundred times himself. He recited Amitabha a hundred times every day for ten days, but no buddhas or bodhisattvas came to visit him, and his mind was still cluttered with junk. Therefore, he felt that he had proved that reciting Amitabha and telling mantras is nothing more than superstitious nonsense.
He never considered how Buddhists train, how their diets are carefully regulated, how they work to change their stultifying habits and to tame the monkeys in their minds, and how a large number of factors are behind telling a mantra. He also did not notice that because of his ten days' practice, for a while he got along better with people, he felt settled and calm, his appetite was better, and his sleep was sounder. He just told everybody that all this stuff about Amitabha and mantras is superstitious nonsense. He proved that he is nobody’s fool!
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
A mind-shaking comment (not an exact quote) from one of those little book-review blurbs in the LA Times last November: "The book was more believable because it was non-fiction." HuH? More believable than what? Fiction? This requires comment? Or she implies that non-fiction is composed of believable and non-believable?
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I was reading about the amazing fossil fish, the Coelacanths. It seems that it has a brain that occupies only 1.5% of the braincase, and that the rest of the cavity is filled with fat.
Good heavens! I had never realized that so many prominent politicians are coelacanths!
(as to which politicians, please list your own pet peeves. 陳水扁, Sarah Palin, McCain, 陳菊, and Cheney top mine. Bush, per and fils, are nowhere near that 1.5%.)
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
At a public meeting in Arizona, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 14 others were wounded and six killed by an unbalanced gunman. This in a state where people carry guns when the President of the United States visits.
I cannot believe that the Second Amendment (which was enacted to arm the militia, not individual citizens) was intended to allow a minority to enforce their will on the majority, or to enable that minority to obliterate the results of lawful elections with a few bullets.
Is the NRA proud? I hope that Americans who are capable of thinking finally start to enact some real gun control. It’s long overdue.
Saturday, January 08, 2011
Monday, January 03, 2011
I marvel every time I pass one of these modern gyms, with all the equipment and trainers and bright lights and loud music. People very seriously trot along on running machines, their eyes glued to the television screen in front of them: can't having the paying customers getting bored while they're exercising, I suppose. Are they aware that their running machine used to be called a treadmill and was once a tool of punishment for prisoners?
Perhaps gyms are a necessity in this modern cities where most people spend their days sitting. But I feel overall hard work is better for your health than going to a gym, and if your hard work is done outdoors, in a natural setting, even better. I seriously doubt whether all those bright lights and loud noises can be good for your whole body health, not to mention the lack of fresh, natural air. But if you are active outdoors, you aren't spending money, nobody is making a buck off you, so in today's world, that won't do. Sure, gym rats may be festooned with glamorous muscles, but look at photos of hard working men from the 19th century. They were certainly tougher than city dwellers today, but they didn't have those cumbersome clumps of muscles. You may not be aware of it, but sawing is hard work; old-time sawyers did their work day in and day out, with saws that did not cut as well as modern saws. In the pictures I have seen of those sawyers, their figures were not particularly impressive. Probably because they didn't spend enough time (and money) on the treadmill watching insipid television shows, with an IPod blasting music into their ears.
Athletes competing in the Olympics a century ago trained for a week or two before the big event, which was truly amateur. Records are better now, but the few seconds faster or few centimeters higher are all out of proportion to the time spent in preparation, which is now counted in years rather than weeks.
In Food Politics, Marion Nestle points out that natural foods are more complete than processed foods, as they are still full of trace vitamins and so forth. (blog here, worth reading). Of course processed food is better than no food at all, exercising in a gym is better than not exercising at all. But by the same token, living a healthy lifestyle, moving about under your own power, using your hands and feet to do things besides pressing buttons, is bound to be better for you over the long run than living a sedentary life and spending time in a closed in gym.
So turn off the computer and get out into the wilderness!
Saturday, January 01, 2011
Today is the first day of the 100th year of the Republic of China. Most people thought this day would never come, that the ROC would be wiped out by the Communists long before this. When I planned to come to Taiwan from Viet Nam, my friends in Saigon told me it was far too dangerous, and that it was much safer to stay in Viet Nam, where there was a war going on, than to come to Taiwan and get slaughtered when the People’s Liberation Army and the Red Guards carried out their promise to wash Taiwan in blood.
I arrived in
We've come this far, which is cause for celebration, and relief; at least the ROC has lasted longer than the Yuan dynasty, founded by the Mongols after Genghis Khan, at 97 years the shortest of all Chinese dynasties. The ROC today faces far different challenges: loss of solidarity, loss of economic strength, a loss of the will to strive for anything. A particularly worrisome problem is a closing in of vision; people forget that