Thursday, August 31, 2006

What happens to most pieces of truth

From Tricycle

One day Mara, the Buddhist god of ignorance and evil, was traveling through the villages of India with his attendants. He saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up in wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground in front of him.

Mara's attendants asked what that was and Mara replied, 'A piece of truth.' 'Doesn't this bother you when someone finds a piece of the truth, O evil one?' his attendants asked. 'No,' Mara replied. 'Right after this they usually make a belief out of it.'

As we already noted: humans, smart enough to have ideas; foolish enough to believe them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hamas Spokesman Blames Palestinians for Gaza Chaos

From the New York Times
In an unusual instance of self-criticism, a well-known Hamas official has deplored the collapse of Gazan life into chaos and has said that much of the blame belongs to Palestinians themselves.

"Gaza is suffering under the yoke of anarchy and the swords of thugs," Ghazi Hamad, a former Hamas newspaper editor and the spokesman for the current Hamas government, wrote in an article published Sunday in Al Ayyam, the Palestinian newspaper.

After so much optimism when Israelis pulled out of Gaza a year ago, he wrote, "life became a nightmare and an intolerable burden."

He urged Palestinians to look to themselves, not to Israel, for the causes. But he appeared not to be placing the blame on Hamas or the Palestinian Authority's prime minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas. He said various armed groups in the Gaza Strip — most affiliated with Fatah, Hamas's rival — were responsible for the chaos.

"We've all been attacked by the bacteria of stupidity," Mr. Hamad wrote. "We have lost our sense of direction." He addressed the armed groups: "Please have mercy on Gaza. Have mercy on us from your demagogy, chaos, guns, thugs, infighting. Let Gaza breathe a bit. Let it live."
It's good to see at least some Palestinians taking responsibility for their lives.

US polygamy sect leader arrested

Warren Jeffs, 50, was pulled over by a Nevada Highway Patrol on Monday along with his brother and one of his wives.

He went into hiding in May after being charged in Arizona with sexual misconduct for allegedly arranging marriages between minors and older men. …

Warren Jeffs, who is reputed to have 70 wives, took over the leadership of the [Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in Arizona and Utah] after his father Rulon died in 2002. …

The 10,000-strong FLDS split from the Mormon Church more than a century ago after the latter renounced polygamy. The sect dominates the towns of Colorado City, in Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, less than a mile away.

Members of FLDS believe a man must marry at least three wives in order to ascend to heaven.
It doesn't make sense to me to say that polygamy is illegal. It simply is not possible to marry multiple women — unless one lies when applying to be married, and even in that case, the second (and any subsequent) marriage will probably be rules invalid. It's significant that Jeffs was not charged with polygamy; he was charged in relationship with sex with minors.

Poverty Remains Higher, and Median Income for Non-Elderly Is Lower, Than When Recession Hit Bottom

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Overall median household income rose modestly in 2005, while the poverty rate remained unchanged. For the first time on record, poverty was higher in the fourth year of an economic recovery, and median income no better, than when the last recession hit bottom and the recovery began.

In addition, the 1.1 percent increase in median income in 2005, which was well below the average gain for a recovery year, was driven by a rise in income among elderly households. Median income for non-elderly households (those headed by someone under 65) fell again in 2005, declining by $275, or 0.5 percent. Median income for non-elderly households was $2,000 (or 3.7 percent) lower in 2005 than in 2001.

In a related development, the median earnings of both male and female full-time workers declined in 2005. Median earnings for men working full time throughout the year fell for the second straight year, dropping by $774, or 1.8 percent, after adjusting for inflation. The median earnings of full-time year-round female workers fell for the third straight year, declining by $427, or 1.3 percent.

Furthermore, the poverty rate, at 12.6 percent, remained well above its 11.7 percent rate in 2001, while median household income was $243 lower than in 2001 (not a statistically significant difference). In addition, both the number and the percentage of Americans who lack health insurance climbed again and remained much higher than in 2001. Four million more people were poor, and 5.4 million more were uninsured, than in 2001. The percentage of children who are uninsured rose in 2005 for the first time since 1998.

The poor also became poorer. The amount by which the average person who is poor fell below the poverty line ($3,236) in 2005 was the highest on record.

Data released today by the Census Bureau show that the number of uninsured Americans stood at a record 46.6 million in 2005, with 15.9 percent of Americans lacking health coverage. “The number of uninsured Americans reached an all-time high in 2005,” said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “It is sobering that 5.4 million more people lacked health insurance in 2005 than in the recession year of 2001, primarily because of the erosion of employer-based insurance.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Pictures from Beijing

Beijing 2006
Aug 9, 2006 - 178 Photos

One more day in Beijing. We're leaving for Tibet Sunday.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

News from the administration

The following is the complete text of a message from the Office of the Vice President of Administration and Finance and CFO of California State University, Los Angeles.
Campus-wide email – Please do not reply

It has been determined that the information in Administrative Procedure 205, Position Management/Salary Savings, is obsolete. Consequently, the procedure has been removed from the Administrative Manual. Please update your department manuals accordingly.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Posting from Beijing

We're here in Beijing. I can get to to post this, but I can't get to to read it! Is one of the URL's that are blocked in China?