wilco (the review)

I just got home and the good ol’ media center started downloading Wilco’s new album, Wilco (the Album). I’ll say up front the following two things: first, I’m not going to do a formal review of it (now) because it just came out and I want to let it sink in; second, it’s good. Not mind-blowing-on-the-first-listen-oh-my-god-my-life-is-changed-forever good. But good.

summer reading list

The following books are filled with excellent scholarship, are damn good reads, and/or are things I’m currently plowing through to finish up a couple projects this summer. Since they’re academic books, they might be pricy. But any reputable library should be able to get them. Or maybe you have some industrious friends out there that can hack into a Kindle or something.

i need a vacation

I really really really like XKCD. There’s the geeky science stuff that one can get into. There’s the crudely drawn stick-figures, a minimalist take on the complexities of modern life. There’s wry social commentary. But I’ll be honest. Half the time, I have no idea what he’s talking about. Whether it’s my lack of a general knowledge of quantum mechanics or the fact that I missed that whole Firefly fan-boy thing, some stuff I only sort of get.

That’s okay though. I think you can appreciate the genius of XKCD on many different levels. As is the case today. In today’s installment, our hero is overstimulated by a cocktail party and longs to be holed up in his room writing papers.

I get that. Oh boy do I get that.

jumping off a bridge

Over the past few months, in several places and conversations online (not to mention several places out here in the real world over the last few decades), I’ve come across stories of seemingly well-intentioned young “Westerners” (i.e., white folks) who have gotten discouraged because some Asian Buddhist teacher has failed to allow him or her entrance into the “true path.” I’ve seen a stream of references to instances where white folks were “shut out” of Asian Buddhist communities. Or something. Often, these stories are used to counter the arguments of folks like myself who like to point out that, yes Virginia, there is (white) racism in American Buddhism.

Something about this line of reasoning really bugs me.

we’re doin’ it live!

It’s Saturday morning. It’s actually way too early on a Saturday morning (thanks, cat). But it looks like it’s going to be a lovely day out there, so I think I’ll make the most of it.

For the last week and a half, I’ve been floundering out here as my primary work computer’s hard drive crashed. I sort of pieced together a not-so-great working solution of the home computer and an old laptop, but I got very little done. So the next few weeks are going to be full of catch up. Oh, goodie. The reason I bring this up — well, one of the reasons I bring this up — is to reflect on how very attached I became to that computer. Or, more accurately, the routine I’d created with that computer and the work space. Not having that particular machine in that particular space was really disorienting. Working on the laptop in my living room just didn’t feel right. Funny how easily we are affected by change.

the DharmaRealm: live!

As of this writing (June 20), the details are fuzzy but the date is confirmed. Harry and I are doing a live recording of the DharmaRealm podcast. The event is scheduled for Friday, October 2, sometime around 5 p.m., held in the Kodo at the Jodo Shinshu Center, in Berkeley, Ca. We’ll start off with […]

a hoard of indignant banshees

There may be something of a large hullabaloo across the Buddhist internets in recent days in regards to the whole Buddhism v. science thing. The issue has to do with an opinion piece written by Athena Andreadis (whose name, by the way, is awesome) about how people love to find compatibility between science and Buddhism. Her argument, in sum, is that people who aren’t experts at something should really keep their yaps shut. Oh, and she said some stuff about Buddhism that was, shall we say, a little outside her area of expertise. That last little point was what got Barbara O’Brien’s hackles in a huff over on the eponymous Barbara’s Buddhism Blog where she thoroughly bemoaned Ms. Andreadis’ piece for its pot-and-kettle routine. I heard about all of this via NellaLou’s Enlightenment Ward. And I can only assume that this debate has spread far and wide because, at the end of the day, it is exactly the sort of thing that will turn a host of otherwise well-intentioned people into a hoard of charlatans, dilettantes, and indignant banshees. I’m going to stay well out of it.

Buddhism, pop-culture, and the homogenization of the Dharma

Presented as part of a panel on Shin Buddhism in the west at the XIV Biennial meeting of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies, this paper is a more reasoned, researched, and well-articulated version of some themes with which my long-time readers will be familiar: Orientalism, the dumbing-down of Buddhism, and the politics of representation.

x Buddhism

As you may or may not be aware, over the past week or so, here and in other places there’s been a long and sometimes helpful, sometimes not helpful, conversation about what to call Buddhists in these parts. Western Buddhists? American Buddhists? Convert? Asian? What? And buried in the middle of Arunlikahit’s post was something I think deserves far more attention than it received.