Monday, February 25, 2008

Blogisattvas, Bristol, and more...

Last week was another interesting one in my life (for me at least).

HEALTH/STRESS: It began Sunday with wrenching stomach pains and other things a bit on the gross side in Gozo, where I was vacationing. It could have been 'too much sun' from our day out Saturday, or food poisoning as my GP (doctor for y'all in the US) here diagnosed on Thursday. It could also have been just another turn in that Adrenal Fatigue thing I may have. With this I seem to have nearly all of the listed symptoms.
PHD UPDATE: Once back in London I had a meeting with my advisors - a brainstorming session that would hopefully set me on track for the summer to work on my own from the states. It was fantastic. I came away wishing I could somehow smuggle Professors Keown and Caygill in my back pocket back to the states (just pop them out once a week for more brainstorming and pep-talks) :) I'll have to post more on the details, but we came away with a further plan/outline for my thesis, something like:
  1. Methodology
  2. Literature Review
  3. Ethics as a Path
    1. Buddhism (from greed, anger, delusion toward freedom from these)
    2. Kant (from drives, desires and inclinations toward freedom/autonomy)
  4. Case studies: perhaps death and dying, perhaps sex with animals (ha! apparently a bit of an issue for both early Buddhists and Kant - should make for juicy discussion)
I can't wait to be rested enough and have the time to really dig in!
TRAVELS: Now I'm very happily in Bristol, where I did my Buddhist Studies MA. I'm staying with my good friend SJ, who was a housemate of mine back then. I've had the pleasure to meet up with old coursemate Mary and her boyfriend Alex yesterday and today I've just met up with Ken Robinson, a fascinating retired gentleman who has made a home for himself in the Buddhist Studies department here in Bristol. Tomorrow I'll hopefully see my old advisor, Paul Williams, and meet several of the new students before catching a bus back to London.
BLOGISATTVAS: In much more lighthearted good news, I have won a pair of Blogisattva Awards this year. I won a couple in 2006, the inaugural year for them, and was nominated for a few last year. So it was quite a lovely surprise to come up as a winner again this year. I should note that I was on this year's selection committee (but abstained in all cases from voting for myself - of course). The above link will give you the full list of winners - I highly recommend them all! My own awards came in the form of:
  • Best New Blog, 2007: Progressive Buddhism, a group blog with contributions by Ordinary Extraordinary [Justin Farquar], WH [William Harrison], Nacho Cordova, Buddhist_philosopher [Justin Whitaker], odin [Paul Jahshan], Tom [Tom Armstrong], and Joe in 2007.
  • Best Achievement Blogging on Matters Philosophical or Psychological [blog, blogger]: American Buddhist [the combination of American Buddhist Perspective (1/1-9/23/07) & American Buddhist in England (9/23-12/31/07)]; Justin Whitaker
  • Best Opinion or Political Blog Post ["post"; blog; blogger]: "Politics: toward a Buddhist immigration policy"; American Buddhist in England; Justin Whitaker
I'm most surprised by the Political Post award, as it is typically a subject I avoid (half jokingly I'd say I don't talk politics unless I have either lots of energy or lots of alcohol in me). But I do keep up on the news and did see something recently that made me smile. It was when Hilary Clinton said during a debate something to the effect of, "whatever happens next, I am proud to be here on stage with Barack Obama." Now, while everyone and his sister seems to have their own (often cynical) spin on this, I found it to be very beautiful, like a moment of genuine humanity in the otherwise very cruel and ego-driven game of politics. Of course soon enough they were back at it, but that is the nature of samsara, isn't it?

I, for one, will do what I can to see Obama in office next January. But first - the countdown on the right is telling me I have 3 days, 3 hours, and 3 minutes before I touch down in DC - a far more important milestone in my little life for the time being.


Patia said...

Congrats on your awards, and safe travels!

Margaret said...

Excuse me? Food poisoning?? I don't think so--you didn't eat anything Bruce and I didn't eat; if it were food poisoning, we would have had it too. A possibility is that your body took the opportunity of lots of sleep, no noise, food without preservatives and almost no environmental pollution to start detoxing--which often takes the form of colds and digestive/intestinal upsets as the body literally tries to flush out accumulated toxins. Whatever--I hope you're feeling better!
Great news on your awards; and your PhD plans look really exciting.
Safe trip back to Kelly!

Jennifer said...

I hope you have a safe trip home.
Peace, Jen

Tom said...

I, too, congratulate you on your awards and hope things go well with you, your education [including any in-the-field research on sex with animals], and your trip back to The New World.

On behalf of myself and patia, we thank you for your determination to "do all [you] can" to put Barack in the White House. I note at Rasmussen Virginia is a battleground state whereas Montana is Safely Republican in their Electoral Vote assessment. Thus, in order to "do all [you] can" you will of course arrange to be living in Virgina on the first Tuesday after the second Monday in November, ya?

Buddhist_philosopher said...

Patia - thank ya thank ya :)

Margaret - I think you're right on the stomach thing, so much for doctors... I'm sure I'll be right as rain in a few more days. Thanks for the congrats and yes, the PhD does seem to have some actual shape now, which is good :)

Jen - thank you too :) peace.

Tom - You're right about the electoral stuff, but didn't you know that (like Patia) I'm a die hard Nader fan? Obama who?

Jennifer said...

I <3 Nader. I have voted for him in every election since I turned 18!!! It's nice to see someone run for president that actually cares about the people!!
Peace Jen

Tom said...

Damn those Nader's Raiders! Snapping up normally dependable Dem voters right before my eyes!

Patia said...

Not only am I a diehard Nader fan, I want to have his lovechild.

Yoohoo, Justin! You've been on the ground for almost 48 hours. Climb out of bed and give us an update! (Surely you're over your, uh, jet lag by now.)

Tom said...

By now diehard Nader's fans are past "die hard" and into "night of the living dead."

unZombiefy yourselves, and become Obamalicious!

Patia said...

I am NOT a necrophiliac.

Obama's a hottie, but just doesn't have as much (sigh) sincerity as Nader.

Tom said...

Since we don't rank-vote for president, Nader has the potential to put us in George W. Bush's third term [ie, McCain's first term]. This would not be good.

I'm all for making Nader a senator, or voting my stock to make Nader head of General Motors. But unhappily our presidential-voting system is rigged such that third-party candidate can only be spoilers. Think of how much better the world might be today had Nader not brought us eight years of George W. Bush.

Patia said...

For the umpteenth time, Nader did not put Bush in office. The American people and/or the Supreme Court did.

If the mainstream democratic candidates want my vote, they are going to have to earn it by addressing the progressive issues that are important to me.

I should say, though, that while I voted for Nader in 2000, I voted for Kerry in 2004. I thought there was a snowball's chance in hell that Kerry could actually win Montana.

Tom said...

Had Nader not been on the ballot in 2000, Gore would have been inaugurated as president on Jan 20, 2001. A cursory look at the Florida count makes that indisputable. Nader got something like 97,000 votes in Florida. Bush finished ahead of Gore there by something like 500 votes.

But in any case, our system for electing presidents results in third-party candidates having no chance of getting elected, and drawing votes from the mainstream candidate most like them, and hurting that mainstream candidate's chance of getting elected.

Patia said...

Well, if Gore hadn't been on the ballot, Nader might have been president!

I mean, how do you know all those people who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore instead? Maybe they would have voted for Bush. Or Pat Buchanan. Maybe they wouldn't have voted at all.

I'm a progressive; the Dems need to not take my vote for granted.

Buddhist_philosopher said...

I'm with you Patia. I think Nader is great. I didn't hear any liberals/progressives complaining when Perot helped hand Clinton the 1992 election. In the end I blame a rather shallow American electorate (things like 'electibility' and 'good guy' became central 'issues') for Gore's loss in 2000.

Tom said...

I may stand alone on this in this comment thread, but I have Truth, Right and the American Way on my side, which means I DON'T STAND ALONE! [wHAT?]

I don't claim that "all those" 97,000 people would have voted for Gore. Some might not have voted; a few might have voted for Buchanan, but the majority and by a margin of well over 500 would have voted for Gore instead of Bush. Thus, Nader's quixotic misadventure of narcissistic presidency seeking has been a spectacular expense of American lives and treasure.

As for bud phil's latest comment, Perot is different, a third-party candidate who actually, legitimately thought he could win the election. He was ahead of the field in some midyear 1992 polls. I don't know that he handed that election to Clinton. Clinton won by about 5.6% over Bush; Perot got 18.9% of the vote. Perot's libertarian supporters came from across the spectrum of liberal <---> conservative.

Nonetheless, I -- liberal Tom -- do here complain about any skewy outcome that thwarts fairness and propels an impostor into high office due to the craziness of our undemocratic system of finding a president.

Tom said...

... and I might add: Voters and potential 3rd-party candidates have a responsibility to not play havoc with our system by allowing spoilers to give us election outcomes that are against the will of the majority.

Whatever his politics, Nader has played, and continues to play, a villainous role.

Tom said...

... and THIS, from Charlie Cook of Cook Political Report, our nation's premier pollster:

"Remember that Mr. Nader, running as the Green Party nominee, cost Al Gore two states, Florida and New Hampshire, either of which would have given the vice president a victory in 2000. In Florida, which George W. Bush carried by 537 votes, Mr. Nader received nearly 100,000 votes. In New Hampshire, which Mr. Bush won by 7,211 votes, Mr. Nader pulled in more than 22,000. National exit polls by the Voter News Service showed that had Mr. Nader not run, 47 percent of his supporters would have voted for Al Gore, while only 21 percent would have voted for Mr. Bush."

[I don't think that Cook's stats would quite give Gore New Hampshire -- 26% of 22,000 is less than 7,211 -- but yes, indeed, Florida would have come Gore's way!!]

Sorry for trolling. Gotta go; wanna finish my book "Naked Came the Buddhist" for Random House.