Friday, March 21, 2008

Banned in China?

I have occasionally wondered if this blog is accessible from behind the great firewall of China. I've never seen China among the countries from which visitor's IP addresses originate, and all of blogspot is supposedly banned, at least some of the time, so I guess it would be. I tried but it is offline due to "reconstruction activities". I tried and got errors, except from Hong Kong, which does not seem to be blocking blogspot or this site.

I have been following events in Tibet with interest. It isn't easy to get Buddhist monks angry enough to throw stones. One way to NOT to win the love of the Tibetan people: cultural genocide and paternalistic condescension.

The Communist Party, atheistic by doctrine, has insisted that it has the sole authority to approve incarnations — the divine process by which a “living Buddha” is chosen in boyhood. Beijing had already selected a boy as its own Panchen Lama, the second ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism, and reportedly jailed a boy chosen by the Dalai Lama.

Meanwhile, Beijing has steadily been taking a tougher line on religious practices and cultural expressions of Tibetan pride. In November 2005, Zhang Qingli was appointed Communist Party secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Mr. ZhangHu. Mr. Zhang has made no attempt to disguise his paternal attitude toward his charges.

“The Communist Party is like the parent to the Tibetan people, and it is always considerate about what the children need,” Mr. Zhang said last year. He later added: “The Central Party Committee is the real Buddha for Tibetans.”

Most people, including the Dalai Lama, do not advocate independence for Tibet. I haven't been to Tibet, but only as close as Yunnan and Sichuan, but I like all of the parts of China and the overseas Chinese communities. China would never give up Tibet, the high ground of Asia, for fear there would be American missiles there in a few years. China should follow the words of Lao Tzu, and govern a large country as you would fry a small fish. I don't think that refers to the liberal use of soy sauce. A concrete example is the European Union. They didn't capture the Swiss Alps by invading with EU troops. The EU makes itself so attractive that independent states are clamoring for membership. This is how China should act with regards to Tibet, if it wants to be able to rule there. Likewise, with Taiwan, while Taiwan, like Tibet, has the absolute right to seek independence, the two sides would do better to attempt to seduce each other. China needs to move beyond its authoritarian state capitalism ("communism with Chinese characteristics") and be more anarcho-communist with Taoist characteristics. A repressive policy is the kind of governance that broke up the former Yugoslavia.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

probability watch 2008

I should add the intrade site to the political markets of i.e.m.(dems) and rasmussen. You can even invest in the recession, but it's almost a foregone conclusions at $6.98 (69.8% chance).


Revenge of the Trees 2008 is well underway. This year's cedar pollen levels are forecast to be three times higher than last year due to high temperatures last August(?). It seems to be off to a later start, however. I only appear in public now wearing a surgical mask, in order to prevent nasal congestion/nasal incontinence and continue breathing through my nose. Yesterday's wind-driven pollen was at an eye-burning, tear-inducing high for the season so far, even inside with the windows closed. A quick check of a local environmental agency pollen measuring site (at 東邦大学) shows levels shooting off the top of the scale at 2000 grains per cubic meter. I guess they will have to make a new scale. Again. I'm not sure if this year is going to be worse than 1995 and 2005, but I vaguely recall that 1000 was once the top of the scale and that 1995 broke records with levels around 1400.

Pollenitis was virtually unheard of until the 1970s. There seem to be two reasons why this is a major health irritant in modern Japan. Cedar trees were used for mass reforestation of clear-cut slopes after WW2, and slopes were planted in 100% cedar. That made the cedar pollen levels many times higher, but it also turns out that in close proximity, cedar trees seem to produce ten times more pollen to compete with other trees. The second contribution is sanitation. The lack of intestinal worms and unsanitary conditions of modern life seem to leave people with more highly-strung immune systems that overreact to a mass infusion of cedar pollen.

Silver lining: my medication makes me drowsy so I can close my eyes any time of day and fall asleep. Very convenient during commutes.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Bearing up

Dreamt of being at my parent's place, walking around a field in the snow. Suddenly noticed that a bear and three cubs were around me, the cubs closer than the bear. Was trying to send a text message on my phone, possibly anticipating a 911 call, and trying to climb over a barbwire fence at the same time.


The appearance of a bear in a dream is a good example of dream interpretation as being culturally shaped. For most of us, bears are not very good companions, and they represent ill-temperament. The exception is in Native American traditions.

For the Navajo and Crow Indians, the bear is a father or grandfather figure that possesses wisdom and knowledge of the sacred.

This seems to be a better dream than being killed by a pack of wild dogs. I don't recall ever having text messages involved in my dreams before. It's sort of a variation on the phone with the missing number keys.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Back to the Moon

I find it astounding that the entire lunar surface was not mapped to at least a one-meter resolution decades ago, before the Apollo missions.

Until now, the best resolution of the moon's south pole was generated by the Clementine spacecraft, whose images showed lunar terrain features near the south pole at one kilometer per pixel. The new images generated by JPL are 50 times more detailed, NASA said.
This means Mars has been mapped earlier in much greater detail, even though these studies of the moon can be done from Earth!?!?

Mars is great, but we should have mapped the moon down to the square centimeter by now. Using remote presence, we could navigate our rovers on the moon in near-real-time, with a second or two delay. People on Earth could log into their rover or robot for exploring the surface or building the facilities so that the hotels and greenhouses are ready by the time we send our meat bodies up to occupy the bases.

People are almost always unrealistic about human frontiers, and sometimes they get ahead of themselves. We ought to not overlook the oceans, Antarctica, the Earth's atmosphere, low-Earth orbit, and the moon as frontiers for exploration.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


"Clinton's Laws of Politix"? Pretty slick for someone who put his willy before serving the people.

White House. 3AM. A phone is ringing.

It’s 3:01 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep, but there’s a phone ringing in the White House. Something’s happening in the world. When that call gets answered, wouldn't you know it: it's just Monika Lewinsky calling to give the ex-President his weekly phone sex. So sleep tight, my little ones, and chill. Don't stop thinking about tomorrow. It'll soon be here. It'll be better than before. Yesterday's gone. Yesterday's gone.