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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Speaking of Japan, the great gaijin has passed on to other realms:

 

Donald Richie, a prominent American critic and writer on Japan who helped introduce much of the English-speaking world to the golden age of Japanese cinema in 1959 and recounted his expatriate life there spanning seven decades, died on Tuesday in Tokyo. He was 88.

…Mr. Richie wrote prolifically, not just on film and culture in Japan but also on his own travels and experiences there. He won recognition for his soul-baring descriptions of a Westerner’s life in an impenetrable but permissive society that held him politely at arm’s length while allowing him to explore it nonetheless, from its classical arts to its seedy demimonde.

Openly bisexual, Mr. Richie also wrote frankly about his lovers, both male and female, saying Japan’s greater tolerance of homosexuality in the 1940s, relative to that in the United States, was one reason he returned to the country after graduating from Columbia University in 1953. Mr. Richie first saw Tokyo as a bombed-out ruin, arriving in 1947 as a 22-year-old typist with the Allied Occupation forces after serving on transport ships during the war. He spent most of the next 66 years in Tokyo, gaining a following among Western readers for textured descriptions of Japan and its people that transcended Western stereotypes.

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While I’m not holding my breath for the 113th to magically improve upon the dreadful 112th and other recent showings of abyssmal congressional performance, greater diversity in our elected leadership is long overdue. It’s absurd how much white male bellicose posturing still passes for political discourse in Washington. You may say that no amount of diversity will change the tenor of politics; well, I’d love to see that experiment in equality play out and see who’s right. We’ve got quite a ways to go until Congress truly reflects the demographics of these United States, but what encouraging strides in the November 2011 election.

 

WASHINGTON — As the 113th Congress opens, the Senate and the House are starting to look a little bit more like the people they represent.

The new Congress includes a record number of wom en (101 across both chambers, counting three nonvoting members), as well as various firsts for the numbers of Latinos and Asians as well as Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. But it was the rise of the female legislator — 20 in the Senate and 81 in the House — that had the Capitol thrumming with excited potential on Thursday.

…This Congress promises to be more diverse than its predecessors in several ways. On hand at the Capitol were Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, the first openly gay senator; the first Hindu representative, Ms. Gabbard; and Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, the first Buddhist senator. Representative Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, also became the first openly bisexual member to serve in Congress.

Although the number of black legislators remained at 43, Tim Scott, previously a Republican House member from South Carolina, became the first black senator from his state, as well as the first black Republican in the Senate since 1979.

First black Republican since 1979?? Join the 21st century with us some day, Republicans.

 

Representative Nancy Pelosi and Democratic women of the House before the opening of the 113th Congress (photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

 

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File under: well-behaved women seldom make history

 

“I was unduly intense, super-serious, incapable of small talk or the kind of friendly gossip that hold acquaintances together,” she wrote in Fireweed: A Political Autobiography (2002). “My perfectionism, insistence on anti-fascist commitment in word and deed, and general ‘heaviness’ as a person set me apart from others.”

 

From “Fireweed: a Political Autobiography”/Temple University Press

 

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So unfortunate that ingesting an otherwise perfectly lovely, beneficial fruit (or juice) can result in severe interactions with prescription meds. It doesn’t take much grapefruit to dangerously compound the effects of a moderate dosage, so please check the list, and the article too– note that other citrus can trigger similar responses.

 

Last month, Dr. David Bailey, a Canadian researcher who first described this interaction more than two decades ago, released an updated list of medications affected by grapefruit. There are now 85 such drugs on the market, he noted, including common cholesterol-lowering drugs, new anticancer agents, and some synthetic opiates and psychiatric drugs, as well as certain immunosuppressant medications taken by organ transplant patients, some AIDS medications, and some birth control pills and estrogen treatments. (The full list is online; your browser must be configured to handle PDF files.)

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Nifty.

 

Yang Zhongfu, a businessman in coastal Zhejiang Province who usually makes a living producing scarves, says he has sold 26 steel-and-fiberglass floating spheres that each can contain and sustain as many as nine people for months. He said one anxious customer ordered 15 of the motorized vessels, which include oxygen tanks, solar lighting and seat belts to reduce jostling as passengers ride out a hypothetical deluge. The most expensive model, at $800,000, includes sacks of soil for growing vegetables.

(Photo: Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

 

Quite the bizarre trip to doomsday panic– Mayan prophecy picked up via Hollywood movie and adopted by a Chinese Christian sect. Ain’t globalism grand?

 

Branded an “evil cult” by the Communist Party and maligned by mainstream Christian groups for claiming that God has returned to earth as a Chinese woman, the Church of Almighty God latched on to the Mayan end-of-days legend soon after the Hollywood disaster film “2012” took Chinese theaters by storm.

 

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This was a jaw-dropping article for me to read, right from the get-go.

 

BAAN PA CHI, Thailand — The monks of this northern Thai village no longer perform one of the defining rituals of Buddhism, the early-morning walk through the community to collect food. Instead, the temple’s abbot dials a local restaurant and has takeout delivered.

Granted, it was 1991 when I was last in the country, but it’s shocking to hear of these developments in SUCH a Buddhist culture. A Buddhism class I took at Chiang Mai University, led by a professor who was a monk for several decades, included visits to a number of wats (temples). On one overnight trip, we got up in the dark of early morning to follow the monks (at a respectful distance) on their alms rounds. Such a memorable moment of my visit; it’s horrifying to think of takeout being condoned by any abbot. And I say this as a Buddhist who has spent time living at a monastery, but in the States where the culture wouldn’t support alms rounds– unfortunately. It’s a powerful practice of humility and gratitude. But here’s “progress” for you:

 

The meditative lifestyle of the monkhood offers little allure to the iPhone generation. The number of monks and novices relative to the population has fallen by more than half over the last three decades. There are five monks and novices for every 1,000 people today, compared with 11 in 1980, when governments began keeping nationwide records.

Although it is still relatively rare for temples to close, many districts are so short on monks that abbots here in northern Thailand recruit across the border from impoverished Myanmar, where monasteries are overflowing with novices.

Many societies have witnessed a gradual shift from the sacred toward the profane as they have modernized. What is striking in Thailand is the compressed time frame, a vertiginous pace of change brought on by the country’s rapid economic rise. In a relatively short time, the local Buddhist monk has gone from being a moral authority, teacher and community leader fulfilling important spiritual and secular roles to someone whose job is often limited to presiding over periodic ceremonies.

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Very few trips to the cinema for me this year, so I’m in no position to throw my two cents in about this list but it’ll come in handy for the Netflix queue. Scott lists his top 10 feature films plus 5 honorable mentions as well as his top 5 documentaries.

 

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