Daily Archives: 03/12/2006

Ukiyo-e Sunday

I’m running out of ukiyoe prints to scan and post up here on Sundays. Next week will probably be the last one I do.

Katsushika Hokusai, Irises
Katsushika Hokusai, Irises, late 1820’s.

Buddha Boy Disappears

A teenager hailed as the reincarnation of the Buddha disappeared on Saturday, leaving behind his clothes in a Nepalese jungle.

Ram Bahadur Banjan was seen heading south before dawn Saturday morning. Banjan’s follower maintain the boy has not eaten or drank water in 10 months of meditation beneath the roots of a peepal tree in an impoverished region south of Kathmandu. Pilgrims and merchants alike flocked to his hermitage and set up a sprawling bazaar around his tree.

Banjan maintained that he was not the reincarnation of the Buddha, but that did not stop him from becoming the calm center of a media firestorm in war-torn Nepal. The BBC speculates that he simply retreated further into the jungle to get away from all the noise and bustle of the bazaar. It must suck having to inhale diesel fumes while trying to achieve enlightenment.

Scrapping Ships

Check out this harrowing photo essay from Foreign Policy, End of the Line. I’ve sent his before in Wired, but wow, these photos really bring home the disquieting business of dismembering hulks on the beaches of Bangladesh and India.

It should come as no surprise that this is a business fraught with danger, laced with toxic chemicals and foisted upon some of the world’s poorer countries. Another example of economic imperialism.

Oddly, looking at these decrepit vessels being torn apart to supply a 80% of a country’s source of steel makes me think of Larry Niven’s science fiction classic, Ringworld. I’d suggest reading the novel to grasp my inference, it’s quite enjoyable sf anyway. If you can’t make the jump, I’ll explain myself at some later date in the comments.

Ali Farka Touré Dies

I wanted to mention this earlier this week but didn’t get around to it. Ali Farka Touré, the great blues guitarist from Mali, passed away this week after a long illness. He was in his late sixties.

Touré won two Grammys in his lifetime, one in 1994 for Talking Timbuktu and one just this year for In the Heart of the Moon. He was adamant that his blues music was African to the core, and that Delta blues was a direct descendent of his country’s musical heritage.

Although he has worked with several US blues guitarists, the “Bluesman of Africa” always insisted that the music had its roots in the traditional sounds of northern Mali, rather than the southern United States.

Malian journalist Sadio Kante says Toure was better known abroad than in his home country…

During the 1990s rebellion by the Tuareg people of northern Mali, Toure was seen as something of a peacemaker by singing in all of the region’s languages – Songhai, Fulani and the Tuareg’s Tamashek.

Many Bamako residents saw him as a northerner, rather than a national figure, says Sadio Kante.

NASA Probe Highlights

A bittersweet week in space science, as one probe begins a heralded mission, another reveals new wonders in a fantastic realm and a third is killed by NASA during a round of budget cuts that eviscerate the unmanned science programs funded by the agency.