peat o’neil

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Posts Tagged ‘consciousness

Touristville, Asia

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Events - 1285Events - 1937 Events - 1955 I’ve been to Asia again and it sucks.   You know those places on the Lonely Planet beat?   They’re crowded with brusque, loud  travelers from  places where respect for other cultures wasn’t taught or the current bunch of road-killers didn’t learn.

Here we are in South East Asia, where the overland hippies from Europe and America brought banana pancakes to Samosir Island in Lake Toba in the 1960s and 70s. Where  Bali was already an artsy rest stop by the 1930s.  Where Thailand lured Vietnam War vets on R&R leave.  The same areas that by the 1980s found Swiss and Germans with months of paid vacation hanging out on remote Andaman islets frittering away long winters.

Then came the ’90s and the ’00s.  Western travelers flew to the obliging “Far East” for smokes and more-different-stranger-sex.   Indonesia’s money values swooped low, some Christians were killed in Ambon and there was a worldwide slump with the dot-com bust.  And hello, wake up,  what happened to quiet peaceful Asia?  Now comes terror bombings on the beaches where Ozzies rave.  The world recession-depression through the ’00s, meant travelers didn’t need a trust fund to waste a year on beer, naked mud slides, temple massages and cheap beds in Chaing My and Koh Tweetie.  Tsunami Tragedy and more of the same.  Wow, what an awesome mess.  No one spells correctly anymore and respecting local cultural norms has ended, full stop.  And don’t think it’s only the westerner travelers who dress inappropriately and spurn local customs.

Asia’s relentless push to acquire the  consumer veneer of success has displaced the traditional culture that attracted travelers in the first place.  Do locals have any images about life in the west except what is online or in film/video/tv?  They see a Droid sized version of superficial trappings.  A  highway of revved cars, bright skimpy clothing, painted fake fingernails and Red Bull parties. That’s the western culture dumped by itinerant bored travelers on gap year and beyond.   The intellectual and cultural understanding, once as necessary for successful travel as a passport and a guidebook, could be missing.

Development Requires Water

In a land of monsoons, peninsular Malaysia and Western Indonesia are developed with scant regard for water run-off or sustainable civic management.  Public buildings spring up swiftly without plans for increased car ownership, traffic routing, sidewalks or transportation safety amenities like cross walks, ramps for the handicapped and bicycle lanes.  Existing public facilities that don’t serve the image of the emerging computer chip state, like bus stations, cross walks, public toilets, are left unmaintained.  And all the bustle and growth is to the tune of the requisite recorded mullah blaring off-key from radio speakers, rooftops and storefronts.  No, I’m not politically sensitive, so what.  This is the reality I experienced.

Highway fatalities escalate because driver’s licenses can be purchased and training would take too much time.  Perhaps even contrary to the arrogant Muslim male who feels the seed of Allah in his loins, and struts as if he alone were responsible for populating the world.  Women are said to share public life, yet they aren’t seen and certainly not heard.  Facilities for women are limited and shared public space can harbor danger.   In a world of men, litter, urine, cigarette butts, trash, chewing gum and food wrappings are tossed everywhere.  No one cleans up when women don’t have a place or voice in the public spaces.

In a world where men believe they are the holy endowed, women are ignored, patronized or baited into compromising and uncomfortable situations.  Mercedes speed along the roads beside open sewer drainage ditches which irrigate the city and overflow when it rains.  Tropical forest has been slashed for furniture, replanted for palm oil production and bordered with toll plazas and shopping theme parks.

Huge tour groups from the new middle class of China and South Asia parade around,  while tour buses chug, sending fumes into the already smelly air as the drivers smoke and chat, or sleep in their seats, bus motors running to fuel the A/C.  How much water do these visitors use?  Can the local villages in Myanmar, for example, sustain their own people’s needs with the onslaught of tourism?

Contemporary politicians have grafted their ideas onto the glory and prestiege of the sultanates to gain depth to their history.  Has regard for the masses ever mattered to those elevated by lucre, king or church?

Did I really expect places to be the same?

In Kraabi, the town appears changed for the better with a jetty promenade and flowers planted down the new four lane roadway.  Why did they need a four lane road?  To handle the tourist influx.  Yet the old buildings endure and you can still find a clean bed for $4.  Thailand seems more prosperous than years back, but not in the flashy way Malaysia has opted to express prosperity.  Public services, structures facilities are reasonably advanced.  Trash bins, road signs, curbs, stoplights a bus station with waiting benches and an indoor  toilet.  Here, I see a balance of women and men in public.  Women wrapped in headscarves stare vacant eyed and follow careless, pushy loud men.  At least they’re not smoking.

In the bright morning light filled with promise, fishing boats chug out from Kraabi to sea. Dried fish on woven mats during the day.  A cat nibbles at the fish.  Women sort the dried minnows and smelt.  I saw a cicada caught in a spider web last night.  Cigarette butts everywhere around the public space.  Why is it travelers never realize they’re littering when they flick away a butt?

Resources:

Virtual Tourist – Dress Code in Asia

Got Passport – Correct Behavior for Buddhist Temple Visits

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Written by patwa

01/05/2013 at 12:10 am

Alien Weeds

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Patterson Clark shared his harvesting and art making processes at the Annual Meeting of the Audubon Naturalist Society last week at Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

I admire his dedication and inventiveness.  Take a look at his brilliant art made of weed pulp paper and essence of weed ink, plus a ferocious amount of creative energy.

In my own quest to help native plants, I  usually pull Lonicera japonica out of the trees or bushes it is choking and weave  the vines into baskets.

Lonicera japonica aka honeysuckle.

More information:

Urban Jungle column in Washington Post

Invasive  Plant Species in the Mid-Atlantic – National Park Service

Written by patwa

01/11/2012 at 10:53 pm

Magician : Attention

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During a totally unrelated search, I came across my  short article about Charles Green III, a slight of hand magician who I interviewed for a piece that ran in the  Washington Post Magazine a few years ago in 1993.

Part of the article appears in this High Beam abstract  which collects a fee from readers.  As you may know, free lance writers do not receive a portion of the fees collected by content databases.  Oh well, that’s the “free” part of  free-lancing.

So, where is Charles Green III today, I wondered. Turns out he has gone global and speaks about improving presentation skills. A magician of presentation!

I like his tips for delivering a strong audience-engaging presentation.  Anyone who has waited while attendants fuss with laptops, remote gadgets and projectors before a briefing, lecture, panel discussion or press conference knows that if the equipment can fail, it will.  Even if you do practice and test beforehand.

Read more about Improving Presentations.

The master of magic is Ricky Jay, who is a fantastic author and historian.  His book, Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women explains much of the American fascination with flashy teeth, slick hair, money conjurers and religion.

Written by patwa

01/08/2012 at 1:58 pm

Would You Hire This Guy?

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Written by patwa

26/07/2012 at 1:25 pm

Gastronomica Reader :: Wikimania 2012

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The Gastronomica Reader
Univ of California Press, 2010.

What fun to find that the Gastronomica Reader , which includes my long article about Diana Kennedy and Mexican organic farming,  is on a book list run by an Estonian webrarian!

Fun because this connects directly to last week’s Wikimania 2012 in Washington, DC where I met a wikimanian from Estonia, Raul Veede.  Synchronicity and random serendipity are the most reliable indicators I follow in order to avoid the contrived pressures of marketing, crowd control, greed and aggression.  Long life the randomness of the internet and the global volunteer efforts of wiki writers everywhere.

P.S.  If you’ve used Wikipedia, consider making a donation.  What would we do without it?

Iatrogenic Disease :: Hello Hospitals?

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[Photo too disturbing to publish goes here]

Flesh, cells and protein rot.  You’ve seen vegetables disintegrating into piles of squashed odor and off-beat color.  You’ve smelled rancid milk.  You didn’t eat that meat or the fish that seemed a little off. You know that wounds are risky sites.

Social niceness keeps us in the dark about the decadent reality of human flesh. It rots fast.  My great grand-aunt went  to gangrene (we’re so sorry, it was a hospital infection, as they used to say) while in hospital care  for a broken bone in a suburb of Washington, DC that begins with B.  I was six years old and I’ve never forgotten the odor, her pain and death.

Political and business interests avoid revealing the facts of iatrogenic disease, which is a fancy name for infection that starts in medical settings — clinics, emergency rooms, ICU, surgeries, waiting rooms, examining rooms, and all the other places where practitioners of all stripes wear latex gloves but forget to wash their hands.

Read more about staph infections and the many ways they are transmitted in medical settings.  Know the symptoms and act immediately to secure proper care.  Understand how to protect yourself from infection after or during emergency care settings, particularly in certain states, provinces, regions and countries where you’d think medical care is universally top notch, but in fact, it’s not.   Not by a long shot.  Read Ivan Illich’s book Medical Nemesis.

The key to evaluating medical care  is not counting how many successful transplants or open heart surgeries occur, nor how many elaborate imaging and analytic processes are on offer, but knowing the incidence of staph infection acquired during brief emergency room encounters or infection associated with routine procedures will help you keep your flesh, and your life.

Does the U.S. Center for Disease Control weekly Morbidity and Mortality report include iatrogenic staph infection numbers?  Australia started publishing the numbers in 2011.  Does your state or country?

Did you know common staphylococcus aureus infections are resistant to medication?

Look at this mess of medical malpractice and lack of knowledge management reported by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times.  Here’s a fast solution —  Each patient on intake receives a secure wiki page in the hospital’s online LAN on which all comment, diagnosis, data, treatment and symptoms are noted so that all practitioners, family and institutions caring for the individual can monitor progress and decline.  Maybe it will prevent decline and iatrogenic disease and death.  Wikis can be created in seconds. Any medical idiot can add content and there are certainly plenty of them to go around.

Florida  2012

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57431162-10391704/aimee-copeland-24-battles-flesh-eating-necrotizing-fasciitis-following-zip-lining-accident/

“…was zip-lining last Tuesday near her home with her friends when she suffered a cut on her calf that required 22 staples to close. She came back to the emergency room at Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton, Ga. …”

Perhaps the staphylococcus aureus infection and subsequent necrotizing fascists commenced but after contact in the emergency room where her leg was stapled (!) together.  The cut wasn’t the source of infection, but the subsequent emergency room contacts infected her.

Florida 2012

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/article/257238/3/Starke-man-dies-after-fight-with-necrotizing-fasciitis

Florida – Tampa

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2163297/Flesh-eating-bacteria-Lisa-Maria-Carter-sues-Tampa-hospital-losing-hands-feet.html

South Carolina 2012

http://www.wtsp.com/news/health/article/255604/12/Another-woman-victim-of-flesh-eating-bacteria

“It’s caused by two usually common bacteria, streptococcus and staphylococcus aureus …”

commonly found in hospital emergency room settings as well as on the human body.

Resources:

http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0303critic/030313illich/Frame.Illich.Ch1.html

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5953a1.htm?s_cid=mm5953a1_w

http://www.fidanoski.ca/medicine/staphylococcus-streptococcus.htm

http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/state/golf-outing-palm-frond-leads-to-flesh-eating-disease-necrotizing-fasciitis-for-florida-man

http://www.amazon.com/American-Way-Death-Revisited/dp/0679771867/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287503475&sr=1-1

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18476182

Written by patwa

18/07/2012 at 1:11 pm

The Eye Has to Travel

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At Silver Docs a few days ago, during the Documentary Film Festival at AFI in Silver Spring, I swooned over this film DV:The Eye Has to Travel about Diana Vreeland.  She was the editrix-empress of Vogue, long before the Devil Wears Prada.  The director of the documentary answered questions after the screening and revealed she is married to one of Vreeland’s grandchildren the access to contacts and family archives was fluid.  Said the film project grew out of a book she was already working on.  The images are fab — wry, witty commentary on the 1960s and 70s.

Written by patwa

29/06/2012 at 10:35 pm

Andrew McDowell

An Author of Many Parts

RED ROAD PRESS

On the Red Road in South Puna, Hawai'i

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