In commemoration of a sturdy little vehicle, xe lam, the Lambro.
Friday, November 25, 2016
Ah, the good old days! In the good old days, for an afternoon’s entertainment, you and your friends might nail a cat to a stake and take turns ramming it to death with your head. Someone might lose an eye in the process, but what fun! Or you could watch a neighbor flogging his slave, admire the dead bodies strung up on the gallows (in case you missed the hanging), torment the people in stocks, or listen to the lady next door beating her servant. Then it’d be time for dinner; if you were effete and unafraid of ridicule, you might eat with a fork, but otherwise, eat with your fingers and knife, and wipe your fingers off on your shirt. When you have gnawed the meat off the bone, just drop the bone on the floor for the dogs to eat. When dinner was finished, the garbage was just flung into the open sewer in front of your house, and you abided with the stench. The pigs wandering the neighborhood would eat some of the garbage, and the rest might get washed away in a rain. You stayed in your hometown. You had no place to go, really, because travel was not only difficult but downright dangerous, with bandits eager to cut your throat for your purse, and trying to stay off the gallows. Of course you could go to the gallows yourself if you stole a handkerchief or got hungry and swiped some bread. If your child showed “strong evidence of malice” between the ages of seven and fourteen, they could be hanged, too. If the king didn’t like your religious practice, you might be burned to death, and friends and neighbors would come to watch and jostle for positions downwind so they could get a whiff of your burning body, to sanctify themselves.
Doesn’t that sound just great?
No. We have moved forward, fighting step by step. Before I go any further, I assume that my reader would not wish to be on the receiving side of such events: you would not like to be enslaved, do not think it’s nice to nail cats to stakes, think sanitation is a good thing, would not like to see your neighbor burned to death just because he is a Baptist, enjoy going off on vacation without worrying about getting your throat cut, and so forth.
Now normal people consider the events detailed in the first paragraph inhumane, but at the time (I am basing this description roughly on life in medieval London, although there were not African slaves yet), they were taken for granted.
Every step forward has been achieved only by the hard work of people who were not willing to accept those practices, striving in the face of fierce resistance of those who thought the old ways were just fine.
The people who have achieved these advances are called “liberals.” The people who oppose these advances are called “conservatives.” Issues liberals fight for are taken for granted fifty years later, and after another fifty years, when some issues may well be out of date, they are strongly defended by conservatives.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
I’m old enough to remember when Barry Goldwater was running against LBJ. One of Goldwater’s strongest attacks was that Johnson was promoting Medicare, which Republicans saw as a communist plot to overthrow capitalism. So it is with some bemusement that I see how sacred Republicans now hold Medicare. Things liberals fight for today are taken for granted fifty years later.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Putin is happy Trump won. The KKK is happy Trump won. American national security advisors are worried to death that Trump won. Where does that put us? Up that creek without a paddle, maybe.
The only bright side is that Trump is backpedaling on his campaign promises like Lance Armstrong on steroids pedaling towards a finish line. But we do not need an unpredictable, vindictive president.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Thursday, November 17, 2016
天氣好，帶兩個小狗出去走走。想回頭，皮狗Yumin向前走，不見了。我叫，他不回來。天要黑，而我不想去拉他回來。Ksasan在我身邊，我自言自語跟她說，「要不要去找妳哥哥回來？」沒想到，她立即起步，飛快向前跑，不見了，沒多久看到她帶著哥哥回來。你說這個狗聰明不聰明？The weather was nice so I took the dogs out for a walk. When it was time to turn back, Yumin kept going on ahead. He was soon out of sight around a bend and wouldn’t come back when I called. Beagle. Ksasan stood next to me obediently. Sort of talking to myself, I asked her, You want to go get your brother to come back? To my surprise, she raced forward and was soon out of sight. Before long, she came back, herding Yumin. Is that a smart dog or what?
Friday, November 11, 2016
We just got back from a three day excursion to the east coast.
I was in a temple, talking with a nun, when somebody strolled by and asked, Aren’t you Americans having an election? What’s going on there? Yeah. I checked the news on my cell phone. The results shocked me. I told the nun, Trump won. She asked, How could anybody vote for a person like Trump? I said, He says he can restore America to the way it was sixty years ago. She was so agitated that she stood up and walked a circle around the room (Buddhist nuns do not get discombobulated easily). How could anybody possibly restore anything to the way it was sixty years ago!? I had no answer for her.Countries that support America are in despair, and even Australia, the USA’s staunch ally, is considering distancing itself from us. ISIS, Putin, Khomenei, and Xi Jinping are celebrating Trump’s victory. Wonder why.
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Monday, November 07, 2016
Tomorrow the American people will decide whether we need a President who is fully endorsed by not only the Kremlin but also the KKK. Hillary may have her faults, but the USA can survive them. Nobody seriously believes that Trump can Make America White Again, but he sure can send the country down the tubes. Keep your fingers crossed. Amitabha.