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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Observing Sweden – Spring

How to chat to Swedes when the sun comes out
Excerpt from: The Local
Published: 30 Mar 2016 07:29 GMT+02:00

The clocks have sprung forward. So here are the essential words and topics to whip out and impress your Swedish friends and family in the season of new beginnings.
  1. Time, please, ladies and gentlemen 
Last week we had two sure signs of spring — the vernal equinox (vårdagjämning) and the arrival of summer time (sommartid) when we screwed the clocks forward an hour and raged against the machine for depriving us of a full night’s sleep. So make a note of these words as they’re cropping up everywhere — even in politics.
So elated was one member of parliament at the arrival of spring this year that he never wants to go back and is lobbying to make summertime permanent. “You cannot remove the winter, but you can make it brighter,” he said.
  1. In bloom 
From the ground they emerge to make our world a brighter place. We’re talking tussilago (which surely is one of Sweden’s loveliest words), vitsippa and krokus. Translation: coltsfoot, wood anemone and crocus.
Like everyone’s favorite denim jackets (jeansjackor), they were hidden away for the winter but now suddenly they’re everywhere. And look! Knoppar (buds) are on the trees too!
  1. Is it safe to come out yet? 
Bears know the score. While the human population gets all droopy for half the year in Sweden and enters a sort of semi-hibernation, our ursine friends take it all the way. They gå i ide (go into hibernation). But now they’re back, emerging from their dens and getting chased up trees by dogs.
Also, the flyttfåglar (migratory birds) are on their way back to these parts. Indeed, a sure sign of spring each year is the first sighting of a crane (trana) returning to Lake Hornborga in south-western Sweden.
If you’re lucky you might even see a skäggdopping (great crested grebe) or an ormvråk (buzzard).
  1. How does it make you feel?
Bye bye melancholy, hej då melatonin and good riddance (or tears, depending on your viewpoint) Melodifestivalen. There’s vår i luften (spring in the air) and we’re happy as a kalv på grönbete (calf in green pastures). At least, that is, until we catch the first whiff of gråbopollen (mugwort pollen) and we’re basically one big human sneeze until the hay fever (hösnuva) abates.
But while we may be runnier of nose, we are also prettier of face as the first fräknar (freckles) appear.
  1. The sun’s out, we’re all out
As soon as you can no longer see your own breath it’s time for the first grillfest (barbecue) of the year. Throw another korv (sausage) on the engångsgrill (disposable barbecue) mate, it’s going to be a scorcher.
And once the temperature nears the 10C mark everyone starts to brave the outdoor sections of cafes and restaurants (uteserveringar). From April 1st they proliferate and stay there until the end of October, by which time the bears have already decided they’re about ready for their ide again. Sov gott, björn/Björn (Sleep tight, bear/guy called Björn).

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Life Is A Beach – 1 Puri, India – 1985

BEACHPuri Beach 4 womenPuri Beach 7 womenPuri Beach 10 People

Observing Growing Older – 1

Excerpt from:
By Tara Bahrampour March 29 at 7:10 AM

It’s no longer okay to be sexist or racist. She asks why it’s still okay to be ageist.

Ashton Applewhite, anti ageism blogger and author, says it’s no longer cool to make fun of growing old. She is a public speaker, performer, and the author of “This Chair Rocks,” an anti-ageist blog. This month she published a book of the same name; a self-described manifesto that she hopes will transform the way Americans think of aging in the same way “The Feminine Mystique” helped catalyze the women’s movement half a century ago.
Applewhite’s new book, ‘This Chair Rocks: A Manifeston Against Agisim,’ overturns stereotypes about old age.


The goal, she admits, is “absurdly ambitious.” But Applewhite, who travels the country trying to reverse negative stereotypes about growing old, believes America’s anti-ageism moment has arrived.“People are hungry for a narrative that rings true to our experience of growing older,” she says. While much of American society now considers it unacceptable to be openly sexist, racist, or homophobic, “old people are still fair game.”

Applewhite rails against greeting cards that make fun of saggy skin and lost keys – the view of aging as nothing but decline. “Why should I accept the notion that the present-day me is inferior to the younger me?”

Born in 1952, smack in the middle of the baby boom generation, the former book editor says she was as terrified as anyone of old age.
“If you had told me ten years ago that I would be passionately interested in aging, I would have said you’re delusional,” she says. But a project about people over 80 who still worked spurred her to rethink common stereotypes – that old people were weak, boring, or incompetent – and to dig more deeply.

“I started learning about longevity, and everything I heard was so much more positive than the common wisdom.” Like that there is a U-curve for happiness – it declines in young adulthood and increases for people over 50. Or that only 4 percent of people over 65 live in nursing homes. “The scary stuff about aging is real, but our fears are hugely out of proportion.”

Applewhite on her dislike for the phrase ‘successful aging’

She calls it a prejudice against our future selves, and like any prejudice, it is mired in ignorance. But it is one she herself has struggled against. “I know in hindsight that I started writing because I was afraid of getting old,” she says.

With her angular features and stylish mass of still-brown curls, her appearance does not scream, “63-year-old grandmother.” But that is her point: that the older a person gets, the less easy it is to define that person by looking at chronological age.
“Geriatricians say, ‘You’ve seen one 80-year-old, you’ve seen one 80-year-old. We have this idea of aging as loss, when it’s really a process of accretion. It’s additives.” Looking back, she says, “I miss my cartilage, but I really don’t miss anything else.” The movement’s time has come, she says, in part because baby boomers, who begin turning 70 this year, can no longer run and hide from the fact that they are getting old.

“It turns out that, no matter how much kale I eat, no matter how many memory exercises I do, I’m actually not going to dodge this whole aging thing, the same as every mortal in the world. So there is an awareness beginning…My cohort seems to be realizing that, ‘Dang, I put on the brakes but I’m still slipping down the road.’”

The book, written in a conversational style, explores the origins of our cultural biases against growing old, examines the role of the “medical-industrial complex” in perpetuating stigmas about old age, and offers tips on how to change one’s attitude about aging.

“It’s shocking how age-segregated American society is,” she says. She blames urbanization, which enabled young people to move far from their families, and the printing press, which took away older people’s role as the repository of knowledge and passers-down of wisdom.
“That used to be the natural order of things, and it’s pretty wacky that it’s been subverted,” she says.

“Our society is so ageist that younger people don’t want to sit next to older people because they think they’re boring, and older people might think they have nothing to say to younger people. Nothing changes if we stay in our silos, and one of the really, really important things about living in society is having friends of all ages. It connects people empathetically, and that’s critically important.”

An Applewhite blog – “Yo, Is This Ageist?” – invites people to submit examples of ageism in daily life. Some recent examples: an ad offering to “Make an Android easy enough for even Grandma to use;” or a list of “boring cities,” so determined by the percentage of old residents. She encourages people to speak up when they see such examples. If they don’t, she warns, they will one day find themselves on the wrong side of history.

“You can aspire to stay healthy, and you should,” she said. “But aspiring to youth is self-destructive and futile. You cannot stay young; it’s a dumb goal.”

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Observing Sweden – Via Russia and Reuters

Vehicles set ablaze for 2nd night amid riots in Stockholm suburb

RT News -Published time: 27 Mar, 2016 05:26Edited time: 27 Mar, 2016 05:26
Violent riots continued for a second night in the southern Stockholm suburb of Alby, known for its significant immigrant population, RT’s Ruptly agency reports. Protesters set fire to cars and pelted police and emergency services with rocks and pyrotechnics. On Thursday night, police were patrolling the suburb, which is home to large Syrian and Armenian diasporas, as well as more recent Iraqi refugees, when a rock flew through the back window of their parked car. As officers searched for the culprits, the rioters set fire to tires on a public bridge, and poured gasoline over several cars, before lighting them up. When fire crews arrived they were also showered with projectiles.
On Friday night, police encountered yet more clashes with residents, although there has been no official confirmation of a link between the scuffles.One man was arrested Thursday, but has since been released.

Sweden’s last major riots took place in 2013, provoked by an alleged incident of police brutality. But there have been widely-publicized incidents involving foreign-born residents, including asylum center murders, and sexual assault cases, over the past year.
Sweden accepted nearly 170,000 asylum seekers in 2015, more per capita than any other EU state.
As Swedish law forbids police to record the ethnicity and origin of the perpetrators, the identity of the recent rioters is unlikely to be uncovered.

*              *               *

And this from Reuters, closer to home.  We live in of Dalarna province, Borlange.
Published time: 24 Mar, 2016 17:58

Anti-migrant group ‘Soldiers of Odin’ expands street patrols to Sweden

Members of the anti-immigrant group Soldiers of Odin Estonia- Reuters
The far-right, anti-migrant vigilante group “Soldiers of Odin” has expanded its presence to Sweden after gaining popularity in Finland, Estonia and Norway. The group was established in response to the European refugee crisis.

Soldiers of Odin made its Swedish vigilante debut in the province of Dalarna last weekend, patrolling the towns of Borlange, Hedemora, and Säter, Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported. It was later spotted in Stockholm. The group has about 100 full members in Sweden and nearly 5,000 supporters, spokesman Mikael Johansson told Avesta Tidning newspaper. Sweden is the fourth country to be ‘patrolled’ by Soldiers of Odin, which was created in late 2015. But although the group says it is protecting its chosen locations against “immigrant violence,” it has been accused of being a front for a Nazi organization – a claim which Johansson denies.“Violent crime is rampaging, while police resources are on the decline. Before they get together any more resources, we help them the best we can,” he said.

However, according to the group’s Facebook page, the founder of Soldiers of Odin has “National Socialist views,” but “his writings are not the group’s writings,” YLE reported. Johansson did acknowledge that some of the group’s individual members also have clear links to right-wing extremism, but maintained that those traits are part of their private lives, rather than a feature of Soldiers of Odin.

“The way the Soldiers of Odin is built [can be] compared with a motorcycle gang. It is structured in much the same way. We want to get the right people, but we do not want to get into right-wing guys who think they can go out and fight in the streets,” Johansson said.

O tempora, O mores!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Amber & Ellie 1 – Bad news in Borlänge

Ellie competed in another dog show this week and came home without a ribbon. She’s been so depressed.

Ellie Depressed - A

“I’ve lost my groove,” she said. “If news of this gets back to Hollywood . . . .”

A & Ellie Under Table

“You can’t expect to win them all,” I told her. “There’ll be other shows. You’re still a young hound, Ellie. Time is on your side.

“You think?”

“I’m sure of it” I tell her. “‘Cannot tell where path will lead until reach end of road.’ Charlie Chan said that.”

“Who’s Charlie Chan?”

“A famous Chinese cat. He makes old movies. Look, you’re going to be just fine. You’ll win the next time, or one after.”

She’ll feel better in the morning. “Dog show judge like windshield wiper, can go either way.”

Observing Sweden - Sex Acts

Excerpt from: The Local

Published: 11 Mar 2016 15:21 GMT+01:00

Swedish minister defends neighbors’ loud sex act.

Fed up with loud neighbors having sex? Just grin and bear it, Sweden’s health minister told The Local after using Twitter to highlight the importance of finding time for a hook-up.

Most apartment blocks in Sweden state that tenants are not permitted any loud activity, for example drilling or even vacuum cleaning, after 10pm so as not to disturb other residents. One Twitter user who had apparently had it up to here with his neighbors’ late-night romps took his sleepless woes directly to Health Minister Gabriel Wikström – who replied.

“My neighbors are once again having noisy sex. You’re my only hope: could you ban risqué exercises after 10pm?” asked the man. His hopes dashed when the minister responded: “Sounds nice for them, I think. Good for their well being and thus public health as well.”
The exchange was part of a bigger debate, but the minister later elaborated on his comment in an interview with The Local, saying that he had taken the opportunity to highlight Swedes’ declining sex rate.

“The reactions were overwhelming, I never thought it would get that big. I thought the question was amusing (…) and thought this would be a good way to raise the issue,” Wikström told The Local after his tweet went viral. While Swedes may have a reputation for their liberal attitude to sex, the frequency of a romp in the hay is dropping. A poll by the Aftonbladet tabloid in 2013 suggested the average adult has intercourse 3.8 times a month, compared to five times a month according to a separate, state-funded public health survey in 1996.

“That’s a 24 percent decline. If it had been down to free choice it wouldn’t have been a problem – obviously the state shouldn’t tell people how often to have sex – but it is often linked to stress, pressure and people feeling they don’t live up to a certain body ideal. That’s a problem and it will lead to people feeling even worse. We’re humans, we need intimacy,” said Wikström.

But the 31-year-old gave a non-committal, albeit a typically Sweden-style candid, answer when asked by The Local whether he practices what he preaches, considering his own busy ministerial schedule.
“It’s a pretty personal question, but… it happens. I am satisfied with my sex life,” laughed Wikström. “I’m sure there’s a lot about our neighbors that can annoy us, but if they have actually managed to get down to business you have to be forgiving.” Swedes are also known for their open approach when discussing issues involving topics such as gender, sex and sexuality. Wikström urged more of his ministerial colleagues abroad to speak up.

“They absolutely should. We know that there are also negative aspects, for example sexual violence around the globe, STIs or unwanted pregnancies. If we don’t talk about that in a relaxed way we can’t have good sex, and that involves talking about the positive aspects too, that it can be fun and nice,” he said.

Observing Sweden - Stiff Arms and The Law

Excerpt from: The Local

Published: 08 Mar 2016 16:36 GMT+01:00
Swede slapped with fine for ‘Hitler salutes’

28-year-old man convicted of inciting racial hatred by a court in Umeå – northern Sweden.

The court heard that the man had been drinking at a local pub before he got involved in an altercation with two young men on Vasaplan, the main square in Umeå. Around a dozen people then witnessed him making racist comments about the pair and openly using the Nazi salute favored by supporters of Adolf Hitler during World War Two.

Police were immediately called after he was spotted making the gesture and he was arrested at the scene. The man, who has not been named by Swedish media, was formally convicted on Tuesday and told he faced a fine of 20,400 kronor ($2,403).

His case hits the headlines just months after the city of Umeå grabbed international attention after organizing an anti-Nazi event, but failing to include any speakers from the Jewish community. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Amber & Ellie - 1

Amber Couch Crop

Some of my followers have been asking me how it is to live with a show dog. It’s not easy.
Since she won that ribbon she acts like she owns the place. Last week, for instance. I was watching a rerun of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, one of my favorites, when Ellie jumped up on the couch. She wanted to watch Dog With A Blog. “Forget about it,” I hissed. Then, when I wasn’t looking, she grabbed the remote and tried to change the channel with her teeth. Like most dogs her feet are too big to use for anything but walking. You can see what happened.


Now we can only get one station and are forced to watch Swedish Hollywood Wives every night until the new remote comes in the mail.

SAMB & Elli 


Monday, March 21, 2016

Observing Sweden - Dr. Jamal Sanad al-Suwaidi

Taken from: The Local   -  Presented by Emirates Center for Strategic Studies
Dr. Jamal Sanad al-Suwaidi in an interview with The Local.
‘If you come here you must be loyal to Swedish values.’  
Published: 21 Mar 2016 08:31 GMT+01:00
Jamil 2

Can Sweden’s humanitarian agenda really be balanced with secularity and security? The Local speaks to Abu Dhabi-based scholar and author Dr. Jamal Sanad al-Suwaidi about the conundrum.
Sweden is one of the most secular countries in the world. It’s also the EU nation which, per capita, takes in the most refugees from the Middle East.
And as “attacks” of various kinds like those in Paris and Cologne make the world ever warier, Sweden is facing a challenge: How much can the country actually take?
“I think European countries have been too soft, and they are paying the price for it,” says Abu Dhabi-based scholar Dr. Jamal Sanad al-Suwaidi.

Al-Suwaidi is Director General of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), as well as the author of numerous articles and books. His latest work, The Mirage, focuses on the phenomenon of radical political Islam, its causes, and how it should be addressed.
In the book, he argues that using intellect and not just military power is critical to overcoming extremism. The very title of the book is a metaphor for the deceptive remedies radical religious groups claim can solve contemporary social problems.
He describes the current political climate in the Middle East as similar to Europe in the Middle Ages - a time when religion ruled and those who spoke out against the church were persecuted.
But the Western world has been naive in handling the phenomenon, he says. And the problem is deeply rooted.

“They have let it go on for too long,” he remarks. “When the Soviet-Afghan war began, the Western world supported the rebels. And it came back to haunt them. It’s time to wake up.”
Back when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the United States supported rebel fighters, the Afghan mujahedeen – factions of which later become the Taliban. And when the Muslim Brotherhood struggled to gain power in Egypt in 2011, much of the Western world supported what al-Suwaidi describes in The Mirage as their “superficial democracy”.
He concludes it’s a mistake to support any religious political faction over another – because they’re all connected.
“Dividing this phenomenon just makes them stronger,” he tells The Local.

“I don’t think there really is a separation between the Muslim Brotherhood and Isis. If you look back, Isis didn’t emerge until after 2013, when the Muslim Brothers in Egypt were demised. And they both operate by ‘kill now, discuss later’. There is no difference. They might have different tactics, but it’s the same ideology.”

While al-Suwaidi, who received his PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1990, uses his pen as a sword to combat extremism with The Mirage, that doesn’t mean he is against using force when necessary.
Speaking specifically about Isis, the author argues the entire world must unite against the terrorist group, utilizing not only bombs but ground forces to wipe them out and stop the killing of innocents.
As the European nation which takes in the most refugees per capita, how can Sweden be sure that terrorists are not among them?

“Sweden has one of the largest Muslim communities in Europe, and must play a major role in combating extremism,” he says.
For instance, proposes al-Suwaidi, Sweden could promote the creation and implementation of an international database that could be used to document suspected terrorists, as well as those at risk of radicalization, and thus make it easier to prevent them from entering Europe in the first place.
But what about the battle at home?
Sweden's intelligence service Säpo has identified 292 people as having left Sweden since 2013 to join Isis. What is the lure, and how can the flow be stopped?

“It’s very difficult,” al-Suwaidi admits. But part of the solution is a three-fold intellectual counterattack, he explains.
 “We must fight not only this war, but also fight intellectually. We must change the nature of education, change the tactics in media, and change the nature of what is happening in mosques.”
Mosques in particular, he continues, should be carefully monitored controlled.
“The mosques in Sweden and Europe are not always expressions of religious freedom,” he says. “They can be places to learn terrorism.”

Freedom of religion must still be respected, and mosques should be retained as places of prayer – “but they cannot become schools” where radical ideologies are taught and spread.
“There is a difference between religious freedom and recruiting killers.”
While some would view state intervention in a mosque as an invasion of privacy, al-Suwaidi argues that at this point, security is far more important.
“The relationship between security and privacy is abused by terrorists,” he says. “Ask the people in Paris – do they prefer privacy over security? At the end of the day, the killing just needs to stop.”
Nations should not be too accommodating when accepting citizens of another country, the scholar says. Privacy, religious freedom, and culture are all important in their way, but also relative – and those who move to a new country should be ready to assimilate.
“Loyalty to a group other than your country is a massive problem,” he remarks. “The whole of a nation state depends on everyone believing in it. If they are loyal to someone else – well, that’s a problem.”

Swedes tend to be meek about imposing their own culture and values, he adds, but even tolerance can go too far. In his eyes, placing demands on immigrants can help combat extremism by helping them get more rooted in their new country.
“I think if Sweden keeps trying to overcome the concept of nation state, they will pay for it in the future,” he muses. “Those who come to Sweden must be loyal to Swedish values. If they’re not willing to become part of the Swedish community, they shouldn’t come.”

The same applies to refugees seeking new homes in Germany, the UK, or any other nation, and al-Suwaidi argues that citizenship should be based upon values and identity – not how long you have been in the country.
“You cannot have someone from Iraq come live in Sweden and be loyal to Iraq, for example,” he says. “Who are they loyal to? Sunni? Shiite? Kurdish? The Arab world? Isis? You have to be Swedish.”

In practice, that means learning the Swedish language and respecting Swedish laws and values.
It’s not a matter of disrespecting other cultures, al-Suwaidi explains; rather, he sees increased cultural assimilation as a tool to help overcome extremism.
“If you’re proud of your heritage, okay, great,” he says. “But at the end of the day, you must be Swedish, with Swedish values. Otherwise you should leave.”
Al-Suwaidi, who is a Muslim himself, adds that the struggle against radicalism is not limited to Islam.

“Extremism happens everywhere,” he says. “When Trump said no Muslims should be able to enter the US, that’s extremism. When Hindus kill Muslims for killing a cow, that’s extremism. No one has the right, in Islam or any religion, to kill people. I don’t know how they justify this.”
The trick is to stifle extremism – in any form – in its infancy, never allowing it to reach the proportions where it forces thousands from their homes.

“It’s a lifelong battle,” al-Suwaidi acknowledges. “You cannot get rid of extremism entirely. But we can teach tolerance, and make it an international value.”

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.

Observing Ved Mehta

It's the birthday of Ved Mehta who said: "Deprivation often makes a writer." This was posted in Writer's Almanac today. I'd never heard of this writer.


Ved Mehta

Born in Lahore, India (now Pakistan) in 1934. When he was four years old, he contracted a form of meningitis that caused him to go blind. He said: "In India, one of the poorest countries the world has ever known, the lot of the blind was to beg with a walking stick in one hand and an alms bowl in the other. Hindus consider blindness a punishment for sins committed in a previous incarnation." But his father was a doctor who thought that his son should have the same opportunities as everyone else, so he sent him to schools that served blind people. One of these was a school for soldiers who had been recently blinded during World War II, and there, Mehta learned to type. With this new skill, he sent letters to every school he could find in England and the United States, and the Arkansas School for the Blind accepted him.

So he left India at the age of 15, and he ended up getting scholarships and attending Pomona, Oxford, and Harvard. While he was at Harvard, someone offered to introduce him to William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker. Mehta wasn't really sure what The New Yorker was but he decided to have tea with Shawn, who ended up inviting the 25-year-old to write an article for the magazine. Mehta gave up his fellowship at Harvard to become a staff writer for The New Yorker, where he stayed for almost 35 years.

From the beginning, he was enamored of Shawn, and years later, after his mentor's death, he published Remembering Mr. Shawn's New Yorker (1998), a memoir of his years there. In it, he wrote about Shawn: "I fell completely under the spell of his manner - kind, courtly, respectful, and patient. The editing process was arduous and time-consuming, since there was hardly a paragraph that was not touched. Yet he made our work, which could so easily have degenerated into a power play, intensely pleasurable. All the while, I felt that he was sensitizing me to the force and the importance of each word - to its weight, tone, and texture - and was teaching me new ways not only of writing but also of thinking, feeling, and speaking."

Ved Mehta is the author of many books, including Face to Face (1957), Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles (1977), and most recently, All For Love (2002), a memoir of sorts about his love affairs with four different women.
He said, "I didn't want to be a blind writer. I wanted to be a writer who is blind."

I want to read, All For Love. Sounds like a very interesting guy.

Observing Ordinary Life

This was posted in Writer’s Almanac today. I fell in love with it.


Ordinary Life
by Barbara Crooker

This was a day when nothing happened,
the children went off to school
remembering their books, lunches, gloves.
All morning, the baby and I built block stacks
in the squares of light on the floor.
And lunch blended into naptime,
I cleaned out kitchen cupboards,
one of those jobs that never gets done,
then sat in a circle of sunlight
and drank ginger tea,
watched the birds at the feeder
jostle over lunch’s little scraps.
A pheasant strutted from the hedgerow,
preened and flashed his jeweled head.
Now a chicken roasts in the pan,
and the children return,
the murmur of their stories dappling the air.
I peel carrots and potatoes without paring my thumb.
We listen together for your wheels on the drive.
Grace before bread.
And at the table, actual conversation,
no bickering or pokes.
And then, the drift into homework.
The baby goes to his cars, drives them
along the sofa’s ridges and hills.
Leaning by the counter, we steal a long slow kiss,
tasting of coffee and cream.
The chicken’s diminished to skin and skeleton,
the moon to a comma, a sliver of white,
but this has been a day of grace
in the dead of winter,
the hard cold knuckle of the year,
a day that unwrapped itself
like an unexpected gift,
and the stars turn on,
order themselves
into the winter night.

“Ordinary Life” by Barbara Crooker from Selected Poems. © Future Cycle Press, 2015.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bodhanath, Nepal - 1985

These from a small group of displaced Tibetan monks in Bodhanath - 1985

Bodhanath - LAMA TASHI 
Tashi Gyaltsen Lama
That's me on the right. I must have been in my early 40's then.

Boda Boy Insence 
Monk Making Incense

Boda Cook Monk 
The Cook

As I remember the monks stayed at their various tasks for about a year, then moved on to another.

Observing Sweden - 17 March 2016

Excerpt from Bloomberg Business

March 17, 2016
Amanda Billner
Matthew Campbell

When it comes to wealth, health and hospitality, Sweden has few rivals. But the same qualities that make the country a beacon of hope for the world’s huddled masses are straining it at the seams.
To see how close to the limit a record inflow of refugees is pushing Swedish generosity, visit Halmstad, a 14th century gateway to the North Sea known for its pristine beaches and golf courses. With no vacant apartments, the welcome wagon here is a double row of shabby, stifling trailers hauled in to house the overflow from the nearby Arena Hotel. There, almost 400 asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan and beyond live four to a room, all but forbidden from working until their claims are adjudicated. The process can take years.

Men with little to do but sleep and smoke crowd the lobby as kids careen down corridors on bikes. The sports bar, once busy with locals, is now a halal dining hall, the outdoor pool fenced-off and abandoned. It’s a scene increasingly common across Sweden, which welcomed 163,000 refugees last year alone, or about 1.6 percent of its population, a ratio equivalent to 5.1 million in the U.S.
Three years after Sweden and its Nordic neighbors were declared “The Next Supermodel” of fiscal prudence by The Economist, the welfare system pioneered in Stockholm is starting to buckle under the weight of Europe’s biggest migration wave since World War II.

Even dovish politicians concede the pace of refugee spending, which is on track to surpass that for national defense in Sweden for the first time this year, can’t be sustained without revisions to a social contract based on high taxes, cradle-to-grave entitlements, tight regulation and AAA credit.
“If we don’t make the changes needed to maintain trust that our tax money goes to the right thing, people may start wondering if it’s worth paying,” said Aida Hadzialic, 29. “Then we’d create a new gap between people. That’s not the Swedish model, that’s not the Sweden we know.”
It’s a debate raging across the European Union as the human tide of mainly Muslims adds to crises eating away at the bloc’s cohesion and encouraging extremist parties. Even in Sweden, where centrists have ruled for decades, discontent is on the rise. Polls show backing for the governing Social Democrats hovering near the 50-year low of 24 percent it reached in January, while support for the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats has risen five points since the 2014 election to 18 percent.
Investors have already registered their alarm.

As the inflow of refugees peaked late last year, the yield bond-buyers demand to hold Swedish debt over that of Germany, the European benchmark, surged to a nine-month high. Though that spread has narrowed, the government has warned that outlays for migration will further squeeze the $110 billion national budget. Ethnic tensions are adding to the strain, with a rash of fires and threats of mob attacks at refugee centers across the country.

For most Swedish citizens, though, there’s little question their welfare state — as much an anathema for U.S. conservatives such as Donald Trump as an inspiration for left-wingers like Bernie Sanders — is worth protecting.

Today, Swedes can consider themselves among the luckiest people on Earth. At 82, their life expectancy is two years longer than Americans’ and their net disposable income, $29,185 per household, exceeds the U.K., France and Japan. What they lose with a top income tax rate of about 60 percent, they gain back with free, high-quality hospitals and schools, a vast program of subsidies for childcare and housing, and some of the world’s safest and most modern cities.
But providers of public services say they can’t keep those standards up if refugees, the vast majority young and male, keep coming.

In Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city, elementary schools director Anders Malmqvist said he faced “an investment mountain” to upgrade aging facilities even before the latest round of migrants. To keep up, he needs to build about 25 new schools by 2023 at a cost of as much as 6 billion kronor ($720 million) — an amount that will consume the area’s entire investment budget if changes aren’t made, leaving nothing to maintain existing infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
Malmo is not alone. Throughout Sweden, local governments are jockeying for scarce funds to build schools and housing to accommodate refugees, who are being settled on a pro-rata basis to ease assimilation.

Stockholm, a city of 920,000, has to find homes for 2,810 newcomers by the end of the year, but it simply doesn’t have the space. As a result, officials plan to assemble temporary “pavilions” at locations they’re keeping secret to head off neighborhood protests.
Building new housing for immigrants at a time when half a million Swedes are waiting eight years on average for rent-controlled apartments around Stockholm is becoming a flash point, said Joakim Ruist, an economist at Gothenburg University. The only “logical” way to stimulate new construction is to lift price controls so developers have more incentive to build, a move that won’t be popular with voters, he said.

“No modern welfare state has had an inflow of refugees per capita that’s equivalent to Sweden’s,” Ruist said. “We’ve gone past the breaking point for the housing situation.”
Fearing a public backlash over housing and handouts, which can be worth $28,000 a year for a single mother of two, almost what the average American worker earns, Sweden is trying to walk back its open-door policy. Citing an “unsustainable” pace of arrivals, Prime Minister Stefan Loefven has re-imposed border controls and pledged to step up deportations of rejected asylees. Family reunifications are also being drastically curtailed.

Still, Loefven is trying to look on the bright side, arguing the influx of mostly young men will revitalize an aging workforce. About 20 percent of the population is over 65, compared with just 14 percent in the U.S., while a third of the people currently waiting for an asylum ruling are under 18.
Transitioning more migrants, most of whom have far less education than the average Swedish citizen, into jobs poses its own set of challenges.

Wages in Sweden are largely set across industries, through complex deals between unions and employers that include strict requirements on qualifications. Once hired, workers are difficult to lay off, so tinkering with any elements of this finely tuned mechanism risks upending the entire system.
The structure guarantees one of the world’s highest standards of living for those with skills, while those without can find themselves locked out: only one in four refugees finds a full-time job in their first eight years in Sweden.

Until recently, there was little question Sweden, with debt far below the European average at less than half of gross domestic product, had the resources to successfully integrate its newcomers. Hadzialic, , and Bali, , are living proof of that.
Hadzialic, Bali, the schools minister who arrived from Iran without parents as a toddler in the 1990s, is starting to think his adopted homeland may just be too generous for its own good.

“If we don’t act soon we’ll have a large group of refugees who won’t be able to enter the labor market,” said Hanif Bali, an IT entrepreneur and member of parliament for the Moderate Party.
Just the thought of being a burden on society makes Hasan al-Bundok sigh.The 45-year-old lawyer fled Syria’s war in search of a better future, first to Turkey, then across the Mediterranean to Greece and eventually Halmstad. The plan was to find a job, establish a home and then send for his wife and four children back home. But that was nine months ago and he’s still languishing in legal limbo at the Arena Hotel.

“In my country, I’d wake up at six o’clock, have breakfast with my children and go to court,” Bundok said. “But here, I’m like an animal, just eating and sleeping. I don’t want to be a second-class citizen. I want to work.”

Monday, March 14, 2016

Amber Croft- The Cat of Nine Tales – 14 march 2016

Amber good - Footstool - Cropped 

Ellie came back from the dog show last week with some kind of ribbon, and a bag of snacks.

“I won Best Bitch,” she said.

I tactfully refrained from comment.

“I’m a show dog now. I’ve got an agent,” she informed me.
Right. She means the house woman, of course. They go out training every day, and walk for miles. It’s cold outside, and snow still on the ground, but Ellie loves it. Hounds – go figure.

“I’ll probably be getting calls from Hollywood before too long.” she woofed. “You want to see my selfies?”

I suppose I’ll we’ll never hear the end of this . . . Whatever.

Show Dog 1

Friday, March 11, 2016

Going All In - Part 2

How many will step in to stop this ‘attack’ in Stockholm?
From The Local Published: 16 Feb 2016 14:40 GMT+01:00

Most people like to think they would step up and defend someone in trouble. But how many have the courage to do so? A video asking that question has gone viral in Sweden.
In the clip, filmed on a Saturday evening at the subway stop in Stockholm’s Old Town (Gamla Stan), viewers see actor Daniel Norlin angrily lash out at and push innocent bystander (and fellow actor) Sara Henrietta.

Its mission? To see how many onlookers are willing to speak up and stop the situation from escalating.

“We came up with the idea following similar incidents in Stockholm lately. We wanted this to be given more attention and urge people to act in such situations,” Norlin, one of the co-producers of social experiment group Normel TV, told The Local on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, CCTV footage of a similar incident caused a stir in Sweden after it captured a pickpocket hitting and spitting at a mum with two children at the same underground station. Police later arrested a suspect, who faces charges of assault, theft and molestation at one of the capital’s tourist hotspots.

But in the Normel TV clip, created by Norlin himself and co-producer Vlad Reiser – who describe themselves as “two Russian guys who live in Sweden and do awesome vids” – many Stockholm commuters are seen only warily eyeing the visibly shaken victim and her ‘attacker’ without intervening.

“We thought that more people would speak up and react. But actually it wasn’t that many who reacted as we had imagined,” said Norlin.

However, while some choose to walk past, others step in to try to stop the attack.
“It’s not worth it, man,” says one, trying to deflate the tense situation.
“What are you doing?” asks a woman and steps between the pair.

But Norlin told The Local he had expected more people to act. Referring to a Polish man who, in the video, is by far the quickest to intervene, he said: “We have noticed that many people from other cultures often react the most strongly, and that’s what we want to get at, we want Swedes to react in similar situations.”

By Tuesday afternoon the video had been viewed more than 380,000 times on YouTube less than a day after it was published.

“People write that it’s good that these things get attention. The reactions have been very positive,” said Norlin.

It is not the only social experiment video to go viral in Sweden this week. A clip posted by the Sthlm Panda group on Monday sparked debate after it showed bystanders ignoring a staged sex attack.

As it is in Rome . . .

. . . It is in Athens also." Pliny the Elder

 Buddhist Monk Kozen Sampson
"I don't know the Islamic faith well, but I do know that Muslims are our brothers and sisters and I would encourage everyone to just take a hard look at how supportive are you of all God's children," —Kozen Sampson, Buddhist Monk after being attacked
Kozen Sampson, a Buddhist monk and co-founder of the Trout Lake Abbey retreat, was attacked and had his head smashed into a car window in on Monday, in the state of Oregon. KATU News reports:
He doesn't remember much, but says a man, who seemingly thought he was Muslim based on his clothing, attacked him for no reason.
"I pulled over, someone ran up and yelled. I turned around, they kicked the door, hit me in the side of the face and knocked my head into the frame of the car," Sampson said. "I do remember [him yelling] an F bomb [about] Muslims, and that was it."
NY Daily News adds:
Police described the assailant as a white male with brown hair but said there were no suspects Wednesday night. Investigators are probing the incident as a possible hate crime.
Possible hate crime?


Sampson’s 9-year-old temple sits at the foot of the 12,000-foot volcano Mt. Adams in the Cascade Range 
Friends talked Sampson into filing a police report. In a rare and beautiful act of kindness, Sampson, 66, said he only feels forgiveness and compassion:
"I was thinking, 'That poor man.' Can you imagine living your life in fear and anger? Can you imagine wanting to do something that you had to hurt somebody?"
Sampson hopes the attack will be a “wake up call” for others to come together and “support our fellow man no matter what God they may worship.”
Hate crimes such as this are becoming all too frequent and, in some cases, acceptable. Last week a young black woman was manhandled and dangerously pushed around at a Donald Trump rally. Yesterday, a black man was punched in the face, out of the blue, at a Donald Trump rally. It would not be surprising to find this attack against Kozen Sampson is an other result of the hateful rhetoric that has been flying out of the mouths of Republican presidential candidates. It seems hate crimes are alive and thriving in America.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

American Politics - Psychological Burden

This is a long read, but worth the time if you have it.

Dealing With Psychological Burden of Knowing Things Our Culture Doesn’t Want us to Know.
There are some startling facts that have been presented over and over and have basically been proven to be true. Things like the actions of the intelligence agencies in overthrowing and controlling governments of foreign countries. The fact the BRICS banks and the IMF/World Bank are run by overlapping groups of people. The fact central banks and corporations have far too much control over government, wresting control of it away from the people. The US-Israel connection of funding and arms and police training. The connection of Greater Israel with Zionism and the six-day war. The drug trade from Afghanistan, where 90% of the worlds poppies are grown, for US pharma and illegal drug trade profits. The drug wars caused by the US in Central and South America, for profit. The way the biggest oil companies have infiltrated the governments of the world for their own profit. The demolition of Building 7. Regulatory capture. Compartmentalization. Divide and conquer.
These things are very real. These things matter, and drive current events. They are generally provable to be true. They are “open secrets.”

Once you start to realize this is the case, and that really sinks in, then if you’re anything like me you experienced a psychological trip of sorts where you realized how bullshit many aspects of our society really are. That deep down advertising is actually predatory and evil, it’s not that people just say that as a funny cliche. That there really are a bunch of psychopaths with no morality or compassion in many many positions of power, because those are generally the only people with the motivation and willpower to go to the terrible depths necessary to acquire a billion dollars or a high political position. They will sacrifice anything for it, including their morality and the lives of others. They have no problem sleeping at night.

You see the ideologies people believe in, like Christianity, or nationalism/patriotism, or sports, or even scientism (belief in the findings of the scientific establishment above scientific theory itself). You see the greed, people borrowing and spending their lives away, trying to get some sort of emotional perk out of it to make up for the hours of drudgery they had to put themselves through to get the money in the first place. People trapped in cycles, in bad patterns that merely reinforce how fucked we are as a society. You see the denial, you see people shut down when you try to talk about the edges of what they think is “allowed” to talk about. You see people safeguarding their emotions beyond what’s reasonable, beyond facts themselves.

After a while, it crushes you to see it too openly, how many people fall for the bullshit. Everything is so messed up. It’s practically unbelievable. If you were like me, you are probably still in some stage of disbelief at certain aspects of reality even though they are provably true. Cognitive dissonance is something we all suffer from after living in this bizarre culture, the only difference is some of us try to rectify it and others just essentially distract themselves until they die.
This is serious business. These topics strike at the heart of what we think about society, how we think we should treat each other, and what we think of ourselves. What we should be honest about, and what we should hide. What we consider important, and what we consider frivolous.

We here are lucky to have the emotional motivation to seek out true important information, even if it is uncomfortable to digest. Others are not so lucky and hide from the truth out of fear, generally fear of losing social standing or losing income. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. You cannot save the willfully ignorant, they must save themselves. All you can do is actively make important information available to those who have not been exposed to it yet. There are many thirsty people out there who simply can’t find water, so to speak. If you’re “in the know”, it’s your job to share this information with others so that we can see our world and our human behavior more clearly. This is the information that our culture, media, and schools deliberately ignore despite being true. Once we can clearly see what we as humans are actually doing, then we can start to make adjustments and modifications to it that will have an impact. Otherwise we are just shouting at mirages and illusions.

Did you know that 40,000 people worked on the atomic bombs that blew up Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but only a few hundred of them actually knew what they were making? This is the power of compartmentalization. Everyone makes their little part, and only certain people have the knowledge to see how all the parts come together. Those people are playing the rest, in a sense. Human society is like this in a way, we are all “making our piece” and the pieces come together in ways many of us don’t anticipate that profit a very few, like a war or bank bailouts. We each only see our little world, our motivations and fears in our daily lives. We react correspondingly to the avalanche as best we can. Few question where those motivations and fears came from in the first place, and fewer question if they’re even necessary at all.

We program ourselves like a computer, our actions in the present create the conditions that allow the future to occur. “Be the change you want to see in the world” as Gandhi said. But also be the change you want to see in yourself. You can do it, you’ve been doing it your whole life. Just take their reigns of your own mind for yourself. Take off the training wheels of mainstream culture. It is not your friend, it is there to control you. To put your motivations and fears in to little boxes that serve the corporate and governmental machinery, all through your TV or internet connection. 5 corporations own 95% of American all media, from TV to movies to magazines. And it just keeps getting more propagandistic and consolidated, week after week. Did you see one of the biggest Hillary funders just bought The Onion?

The first casualty of war is the truth. The time to talk is before there is a war. Now is the time to spread the truth.”

See more at:

Monday, March 7, 2016

American Politics

This French Philosopher Is The Only One Who Can Explain The Donald Trump Phenomenon
by Judd Legum Sep 14, 2015 8:40 am

Trump Photo

Donald Trump has political pundits stumped. They’ve been predicting his imminent downfall for months. Every “gaffe” that was supposed to destroy his support has only made him stronger. “DON VOYAGE: Trump Toast After Insult,” a headline in the New York Post blared nearly two months ago. The insult at issue, questioning John McCain’s military service, is so many insults ago that it isn’t even mentioned any more.

Meanwhile, Trump still dominates the polls, leading the GOP field by about 14 points nationally. With the exception of one poll in John Kasich’s home state of Ohio, Trump has led every state and national poll since the beginning of August.

You won’t find Roland Barthes on the Sunday morning roundtables dissecting the presidential race. Barthes is a French philosopher who died in 1980. But his work may hold the key to understanding Trump’s popularity and his staying power.
Barthes is best known for his work in semiotics, the study of signs and symbols. But he wasn’t limited to lengthy, esoteric treatises. Rather, Barthes published much of his work in short, accessible pieces breaking down elements of popular culture. The New York Times described Barthes as the godfather of the TV recap.

His most famous essay, published in his 1957 book Mythologies, focuses on professional wrestling. Could an essay about professional wrestling hold the key to understanding Trump’s appeal? It’s worth noting that, before he was a presidential candidate, Trump was an active participant in the WWE. In 2013, Trump was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. In his essay, Barthes contrasts pro wrestling to boxing.

This public knows very well the distinction between wrestling and boxing; it knows that boxing is a Jansenist sport, based on a demonstration of excellence. One can bet on the outcome of a boxing-match: with wrestling, it would make no sense. A boxing- match is a story which is constructed before the eyes of the spectator; in wrestling, on the contrary, it is each moment which is intelligible, not the passage of time… The logical conclusion of the contest does not interest the wrestling-fan, while on the contrary a boxing-match always implies a science of the future. In other words, wrestling is a sum of spectacles, of which no single one is a function: each moment imposes the total knowledge of a passion which rises erect and alone, without ever extending to the crowning moment of a result.

In the current campaign, Trump is behaving like a professional wrestler while Trump’s opponents are conducting the race like a boxing match. As the rest of the field measures up their next jab, Trump decks them over the head with a metal chair.
Others in the Republican field are concerned with the rules and constructing a strategy that, under those rules, will lead to the nomination. But Trump isn’t concerned with those things. Instead, Trump is focused on each moment and eliciting the maximum amount of passion in that moment. His supporters love it.

The key to generating passion, Barthes notes, is to position yourself to deliver justice against evil forces by whatever means necessary. “Wrestlers know very well how to play up to the capacity for indignation of the public by presenting the very limit of the concept of Justice,” Barthes writes.
Trump knows how to define his opponent — China, “illegals,” hedge fund managers — and pledges to go after them with unbridled aggression. If, in making his case, he crosses over a line or two, all the better.

For a pro wrestler, energy is everything. A wrestling fan is less interested in what is happening — or the coherence of how one event leads to the next — than the fact that something is happening. On that score, Trump delivers. He is omnipresent on TV. When he can’t make it in front of the camera, he’ll simply call in. When he’s not on TV, he’s tweeting boasts, insults, and non-sequiturs. When he runs out of things to tweet, he re tweets random comments from his supporters.
Along those lines, Trump’s favorite insult — which he has employed repeatedly against Jeb Bush and, more recently, Ben Carson — is that his opponents are “low energy.”
Frenetic action is suicidal for a boxer, or a traditional politician. But Trump is not bound by those limitations. The crazier things get — Trump suggesting a popular Fox News host asked him a tough question because she was menstruating, for example — the more Trump’s supporters love it.
Some fights, among the most successful kind, are crowned by a final charivari, a sort of unrestrained fantasia where the rules, the laws of the genre, the referee’s censuring and the limits of the ring are abolished, swept away by a triumphant disorder which overflows into the hall and carries off pell-mell wrestlers, seconds, referee and spectators.
But why can’t voters see that what Trump offers is just an act? As Barthes illustrates, that’s asking the wrong question.

It is obvious that at such a pitch, it no longer matters whether the passion is genuine or not. What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself. There is no more a problem of truth in wrestling than in the theater.
This analogy reveals why the attacks on Trump are so ineffective. Recently, Rand Paul and others have taken to calling out Trump as an “entertainer,” rather than a legitimate candidate. This is as effective to running into the middle of the ring during Wrestlemania and yelling: “This is all fake!” You are correct, but you will not be received well.

One of Barthes’ central points is that boxing — or traditional rules and decorum — is not morally superior to pro wrestling. In fact, for all its artifice, one could argue that pro wrestling today is a more noble pursuit than boxing, which is hopelessly corrupt and currently dominated by a convicted domestic abuser and unrepentant misogynist.

Similarly, Trump is able to take advantage of the obvious dysfunction of the traditional political system. In 2016, the candidates are shadowed by massively funded Super PACs that often rely on just a few donors. Many Republican candidates hold positions supported by this elite donor class but not the electorate at large. Others refuse to answer questions at all.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Khaled Housseini's Birthday - 4 March

Khaled Housseini

From Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of the novelist Khaled Hosseini, born in Kabul, Afghanistan (1965). His first novel, The Kite Runner (2003), was a word-of-mouth best-seller, and it has sold millions of copies around the world. In 2007, he published A Thousand Splendid Suns, and it was also an international best-seller. The novel begins in 1975 and continues to the present time. It tells the story of two women in Kabul who are both wives of the same cruel man. His most recent novel is And the Mountains Echoed (2013).

Khaled Hosseini said:

"There is a romantic notion to writing a novel, especially when you are starting it. You are embarking on this incredibly exciting journey, and you're going to write your first novel, you're going to write a book. Until you're about 50 pages into it, and that romance wears off, and then you're left with a very stark reality of having to write the rest of this thing. A lot of 50-page unfinished novels are sitting in a lot of drawers across this country. Well, what it takes at that point is discipline.

You have to be more stubborn than the manuscript, and you have to punch in and punch out every day, regardless of whether it's going well, regardless of whether it's going badly. It's largely an act of perseverance.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Ilya Repin - Cossacks

Painting by Ilya Repin – From: Velvet Rocket Online Magazine
Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire, 1891

Cossacks reply FIX-

This painting, which Repin began in 1880 and did not complete until 1891, is also known as Cossacks of Saporog Are Drafting a Manifesto. The painting, which now hangs in the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, measures almost seven feet by twelve feet (which is part of the reason it took so long for Ilya Repin to complete it). Even without knowing the context, it’s a great painting. However, the story associated with the scene on display is perhaps even better.
Are you, dear reader, perhaps curious to know what the Cossacks find so amusing? Would it amuse you to know that they are trying to write the dirtiest piece of diplomatic correspondence in history?
In 1676, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed IV, sent a letter to the Cossacks of the Zaporozhian Host who lived in the lands around the lower Dnieper River in Ukraine. His army had failed to defeat them on the battlefield, but, regardless of this important detail, he fired off a missive demanding they submit to his rule anyway.

                                 Below is the letter from the Sultan to the Cossacks:

Sultan Mehmed IV to the Zaporozhian Cossacks
As the Sultan; son of Muhammad; brother of the sun and moon; grandson and viceroy of God; ruler of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Upper and Lower Egypt; emperor of emperors; sovereign of sovereigns; extraordinary knight, never defeated; steadfast guardian of the tomb of Jesus Christ; trustee chosen by God Himself; the hope and comfort of Muslims; confounder and great defender of Christians — I command you, the Zaporogian Cossacks, to submit to me voluntarily and without any resistance, and to desist from troubling me with your attacks.
–Turkish Sultan Mehmed IV

Repin’s painting captures the Cossacks’ brainstorming session, as each tries to come up with a wittier and more insulting vulgarity to include in their response to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Below is the reply the Cossacks eventually came up with:

*          *          *
 Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan

O sultan, Turkish devil and damned devil’s kith and kin, secretary to Lucifer himself, Greetings! What the devil kind of knight are you, that can’t slay a hedgehog with your naked arse? The devil excretes, and your army eats. You will not, you son of a bitch, make subjects of Christian sons; we’ve no fear of your army, by land and by sea we will battle with thee, fuck your mother.

You Babylonian scullion, Macedonian wheelwright, brewer of Jerusalem, goat-fucker of Alexandria, swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, pig of Armenia, Podolian thief, catamite of Tartary, hangman of Kamyanets, and fool of all the world and underworld, an idiot before God, grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our dick. Pig’s snout, mare’s arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw your own mother!

So the Zaporozhians declare, you lowlife. You won’t even be herding pigs for the Christians. Now we’ll conclude, for we don’t know the date and don’t own a calendar; the moon’s in the sky, the year with the Lord, the day’s the same over here as it is over there; for this kiss our arse!

Koshovyi Otaman Ivan Sirko, with the whole Zaporozhian Host.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sholem Aleichem's Birthday


Sholem Aleichem was born in Pereyaslav, Ukraine (1859). He is one of the world’s most prolific and widely read Yiddish-language writers. He was the son of a lumber merchant. His given name was Solomon Rabinowitz, but he adopted a pen name because many of his friends and relatives disapproved of his decision to write in Yiddish, the colloquial language of Eastern European Jews, rather than in Hebrew, the language of intellectuals and liturgy. So he chose the name Sholem Aleichem, which comes from a Hebrew greeting meaning “peace be with you.”

His family members were fairly successful merchants, but their fortunes took a turn for the worse, and his parents opened up an inn to make some money. Young Sholem Aleichem loved hanging around the inn, and he found a great wealth of material in the characters and situations there.
He got married, and he and his wife moved to Kiev. He tried his hand at the stock market and started a Yiddish literary journal. But both ventures failed, and he went bankrupt and fled the country. One of his most famous characters is an itinerant stockbroker. Another is Tevye the milkman. Sholem Aleichem wrote many stories about Tevye, and they were the inspiration for the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof.

He and his wife had six children, and he had to write constantly in order to make ends meet for his family. He toured all over Europe and America giving lectures. He lived in Germany, in Denmark, and finally in the United States. He died at the age of 57, in New York City. One hundred thousand mourners lined the streets on the day of his funeral.

He said, “Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.” And, “No matter how bad things get, you got to go on living, even if it kills you.”

Puri, India - Fishermen - 1985

Puri Fishers 2

Puri Fishers 3