Archive for the ‘Boox’ Category

Book Review: What the Buddha Never Taught

Thursday, 21 February 2008

What little I know:

Siddhārtha Gautama, aka The Buddha, started out life as the ancient equivalent of Hugh Hefner and whittled his desires down until he became One with Everything (the state of bliss; Nibbana or Nirvana).  After becoming Enlightened the Buddha traveled and spread his teachings, inadvertently forming a world religion that honors no God but demands adherence to highly moral precepts, including friendliness and compassion towards all beings.

He later died of food poisoning.

A fairly entertaining BBC docu called The Life of The Buddha can be found on youtube.  (Apparently if the Buddha were alive today, he’d be an underwear model.)

While not a Buddhist, I crave what the Buddha promised: the end of suffering. If this could be done by suicide you’d be reading Meatlights40’s shit instead of mine.

Reading Tim Ward’s What the Buddha Never Taught didn’t bring me Enlightenment, but it brought me a tad closer.I’m glad I found it when I did; it helped me answer what might happen if I moved to an austere Thai Buddhist monastery like Ward did.

The Answer to those seeking to get away: you’ll still suffer, but with a shaved head, scorpions and cobras under your feet and robes that will expose your nuts if you sit the wrong way.

Quite a few farang (mildly derogatory term for foreigners) like Tim inhabit this book, including a fellow that looks just like him (creating the duo of Tim and Jim, “The Twins”).

By monastery standards, the monks have a rich, if spartan life: the local farmers, seeking good kamma (or karma) fill their begging bowls with rich foods, giving offerings to the symbolic robes, not the monks per se.  Each monk gets his own kuti (hut) in the woods in which to meditate.

Ward has many lively conversations with the other monks about every manner of topic, reaching the conclusion that whether you stay in the forest or return to modern civilization, you suffer.

LIFE IS SUFFERING is the Buddha’s First Noble Truth.  (I wish Burger King would create a Noble Truths Collect-All-Four set of glasses or tumblers like they made in the old days).

Suffering is everywhere, it’s massive, it shadows life.You can’t escape it.

Except by your own mind.

Maybe.

The challenges to still the mind are relentless, endless:  if you desire something, that’s Attachment. If you avoid something, Aversion is equally bad.

People who dislike organized religion may also find insight here.  Any organized system will be fraught with human flaws, and the monks and their order are no different.  Tim is disgusted the Arahant (an Enlightened spiritual super-leader) of the Thai monks is very old and nearing his end in another monastery, yet is being kept alive so that donations keep flowing in for more monasteries to be built.  Jim is an even greater cynic, disgusted with the laxity and sloth he’s found in other monasteries during his travels.

A fine cast of characters rounds out the monastery, including a Chicago millionaire who gave up everything and (as of 1985) had been a monk going on 12 years.

I was happy to discover What the Buddha Never Taught.It’s highly accessible, straightforward and entertaining, one of those books you’ll want to read every few years.

While you suffer.

May all beings be happy.
May they be joyous and live in safety.
All living beings, whether weak or strong,
in high or middle or low realms
of existence, small or great, visible or invisible,
near or far, born or to be born,
Let no one deceive another, nor despise any being in any state;
Let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another.
Even as a mother at the risk of her life watches over
and protects her only child,
so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living things,
suffusing love over the entire world, above, below,
and all around, without limit;
so let one cultivate an infinite good will toward the whole world.

The Metta Sutta

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Book Review – Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times

Monday, 31 December 2007

The short version: A sociologist/scholar spends years hanging out with various survivalists, then offers up theories about survivalism. Well-written but loses focus. Skip the edubabble. There is no appreciable hands-on survivalism knowledge in this book.

Dancing at Armageddon was written by one Richard G. Mitchell Jr., who explains he needed a “fresh” unexplored sociological subject to write about and found one in survivalists…problem is, he doesn’t do them any favors. Mitchell starts with the claim that James Huberty was the media’s stereotype of a survivalist (my own stereotype would be Burt Gummer from the Tremors movies) and goes from there.

Dancing was printed in 2002 but unfortunately is already dated, covering only the 1980s to early 90s, before widespread internet access, Y2K and, of course, 9-11. Even these “paradigm shifts” probably wouldn’t add up to much in uniting fringe groups or makeshift militias.

Mitchell “trains” with survivalists, who run the gamut from poor loners to wealthy suburbanites. He tosses off a lot of theories about the type of person that gravitates towards survivalism, their thought processes, etc,. using a lot of edubabble that only professors and other obfuscators would find interesting or helpful.

If you only read the first half of the book, you’d think survivalists were for the most part harmless scrabblers, tinkerers, information traders and universal hoplophiles*, engaged in a kind of hobby. The tone changes in the second half of the book, after Mitchell attends retreats and “churches” of White racial purists. What he sees (and caricatures) causes him to lose all objectivity, which is understandable for a human but unacceptable for a researching writer.

The so-called “White Power” movement (which does more harm than good to Euro-American culture and traditions) is peopled with misfits and losers; the same would go for any “race pride” group.

While I admire Mitchell for walking the talk in befriending many survivalists (and exposing the media’s sensational thirst to create enemy Outsiders) in the end he remains a (naturally) liberal perfesser. Having grown crankier and more cynical during years of study, for the last third of the book his original mission of exploring survivalism all but vanishes. You can take or leave his theories, but either way this isn’t an overall satisfying read.

* lovers of firearms

Empire (2006 novel)

Friday, 7 December 2007

Orson Scott Card’s Empire starts out promising and ends up…a video game. It’s supposed to be part of an upcoming video game franchise, so that might explain it.

Click here to read the reviews.

I’m surprised how many readers didn’t like it at all, especially compared to this nerd author’s other stuff. I’m not too mad or disappointed because it was only 5 bucks at Wal-Mart.

Though Card avoids mentioning Bush by name, you assume that’s whom he’s talking about as Prez. Hell, I’m surprised he mentions Democrats and Republicans and red and blue states (guess he’d have to in order to make it realistic). Card throws some implausible sci-fi in the mix (that’s his genre) which helps his story but robs the story that should’ve been written.

An Afterword where Card sermonizes about how polarized the country is does nothing but irritate, especially since he casts himself as a moderate.

I dislike the terms “moderate” and “extremist” because neither term has been defined well.

In most of America in the 1960s, it was natural and normal to be able to buy firearms through the mail, and nobody would blink twice at the sight of a youngster walking down the road with a hunting rifle. Now, anyone who favors just owning a gun can be accused of being an “extremist”. It’s a term as vague and open-ended as “hate crime” laws.

People who call themselves moderates are worse, they’re frauds (“frauderates”) standing on the sidelines of a game they’ve never bothered to play. You mean you’ve never in your life thought about whether abortion is murder or not? Or how much taxation is too much? (There’s always going to be that 3rd of the population who don’t give a damn either way. Let’s hope they die quickly if they choose the wrong side).
Empire features an Afterword where OSC complains that when political sides are chosen in a civil war, all of the other side is your enemy whether or not they were before. Well, duh. Wasn’t the first Civil War brother against brother, father against son?

A proper book still needs to be written about a Second American Civil War, one from the perspective of Joe and Jane Sixpack, for they, not armies or the media or the feds, will be the final “Deciders” of whether liberty stays or goes.

Review of Bushite Fury’s “The Virus”

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

www.niggermania.com is a website devoted to making fun of, well, niggers: Blacks that have completely failed to become part of greater society except as a poor, criminal burden. The moderators of niggermania take the position that they are not hateful, because they deem niggers less than human and regard them as wild animals, unable to live up to “human” standards. They wonder aloud why society tolerates them, albeit humorously.

The Virus is a free online novella written by “Bushite Fury”. It’s about Aaron Winters, a White Man and former computer programmer angry at the destruction of American values at the hands of the Bush government and political correctness, the former because Bush (assuming it’s George W.) has invaded Syria and made foreign relations even worse, and the latter for allowing gangs of Blacks to terrorize the cities.

With the government taking over and fully monitoring all of the internet and other communications and the media complicit in censoring all “intolerant” news, Winters knows it’s only a matter of time before there’s no chance for any kind of resistance, especially with gangs on the edge of taking over his once-nice neighborhood. He and his neighbors hatch plans to escape.

Winters packs up his family and builds a hidden cabin in a national park, where he and his wife and two small children exercise, read and above all, learn to survive, hunting, fishing, tracking, etc. The prose during these parts goes down like flat soda, but adequately explains what would be a tremendously difficult process in a believable way. Dialogue and other elements of storytelling are raw and unpolished.

The virus of the title refers not only to the decay of society by unseen (or unacknowledged) forces but a computer virus that Winters builds in secret to unleash on the government as revenge.

Author Fury is at his best when explaining the destructive results of America turning its back on its history and allowing segments of the population to literally get away with murder in the name of “tolerance”. The tragedy of our times is that questioning the forces overtly and covertly destroying America are found in sophomoric yet honest efforts like this, instead of being front page news and debated everywhere from park benches to the halls of Congress.

Curiously (or not) the word ‘nigger’ is nowhere to be found in the text of The Virus, nor is any direct mention made of the “real” enemy, The Jews. Fury also prefers the pagan religions to Christianity, an odd choice.

The Virus deserves a skimming at least. Hopefully its talking points will be revisited. By me.

Rickles’ Book

Friday, 7 September 2007

Don Rickles is the Man, a comedy legend and one of the last of the greats.

His Rickles’ Book reads like a mid-level conversation with the Nice Guy:  short, colloquial and lacking serious depth.  As one reviewer wrote on Amazon, the 3- and 4-page chapters do seem hurried and unfinished.  There are no comedy routines or how-to insights on the comedy profession but that’s not the intended audience, hockey puck!

If you have any love for Don, this book is worth a liberry rental or buy it used.

Boox is pronounced “books”

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Got some liberry books.  I plan to review them if I feel like it.

Most are non-fiction, self-help.  One is an autobio of Bob Newhart.  One is sci-fi.  Will let you know.